Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Prepare: Tornado Preparedness

We live in the area effected by this week's storms and had to put our own tornado preparedness plans into action last night.

If you have a basement or storm shelter outside, you are in good shape to ride out a tornado. However, many don't have a basement or the outside storm shelter may be too far away when seconds count. If you don't have an outside shelter, than having a makeshift tornado plan is mandatory.

We have an inside hallway with a full bathroom in the center of the house. Why a bathroom? The walls contain pipes which can provide extra protection from wind borne debris. The bathroom is where we sheltered late last night when the tornado sirens sounded. I stocked it ahead of time with the following:

- A portable transistor radio, pre-set to a local news station. The radio was plugged into the wall, but can run on batteries and had a fresh set inside.

- A portable weather radio. This set cost less than $10 at Radio Shack and every family should have one. 24 a day instant weather information with a built in alarm for emergency alerts. This too runs on batteries and always has a fresh set.

- Shoes. There is a pair for everyone in the family in the cabinet. Even inexpensive flip flops will work and they are needed after a tornado hits and the ground is littered with glass, splinters and other objects dangerous to bare feet.

- Helmets. Sounds silly, right? A boy in the Joplin tornado was saved when he took refuge in the bathtub with his bike helmet on. A flying piece of debris hit his head, but the helmet prevented him from injury. We have a ski, bike or baseball batting helmet for each family member in the saferoom.

- Padding. A futon mattress, pillows, blankets. Anything that can be put over people while they lay on the floor or in  the bathroom and which will protect them from debris.

- Flashlights. Tornadoes and big storms mean power outages. We have several flashlights with fresh batteries on hand. Make sure you have more than one flashlight. One person may need to leave the shelter area to check the house or turn off the gas and it's not good to leave everyone else in the dark. Don't count on candles! They are a fire hazard!

Unlike some of our neighboring states, we were fortunate and made it through last night without any problem. But as always, it is better to be prepared for tornadoes than be a statistic later.

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