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I recently was emailed by a wonderful woman, full of information about tornadoes and what to do in an emergency situation with tornadoes. As a military family I find that weather situations such as tornadoes can be very scary because almost every time I have had to deal with tornadoes here, my husband happened to be away. Coming from a state that never had tornadoes, I had no idea what to do. In this guest post, there are some great tips on what to do to prepare for a tornado and how to stay informed. I hope my local friends and military wives as well as those all over the country find this helpful as I know from times past I was not the only one up alone watching and wondering during tornado watches.
This year, tornadoes have already wreaked havoc across the South and Midwest marking an early, deadly start to tornado season. And with the brunt of the tornado season still ahead of us, Attie Poirier of the American Red Cross has a series of simple tips to help keep your family safe: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
Get a Kit
While every household should have a kit, families with small children should take stock of their unique needs when preparing for disasters. Here are a couple helpful hints for preparing your family’s emergency kit:
- Include enough supplies to help your family for three days after any emergency in case help or assistance is delayed.
- Make sure you include copies of key documents like birth certificates and insurance information in plastic bags in case of water damage.
- Consider the needs of your children and include things like prescriptions, diapers, bottles and food appropriate for all ages in addition to standard items like flashlights and water. Small children may also find small toys or activities comforting during such uncertain times. Families with pets should include furry family members in their plans, too.
Make a Plan
It’s also important to plan for exactly where you and your family will go during and after a tornado. For homes without basements, find an interior bathroom where you can all wait out the storm. Bicycle helmets or even pots and pans can be useful forms of head protection from flying debris. It’s also important to create a plan for reconnecting with your family if you need to leave your home suddenly during an emergency or are away from home when a disaster strikes. Consider what different disasters can threaten your community while creating your family’s emergency plan.
Weather radios are a helpful resource for staying up to date on the latest information, especially if other telecommunications channels are disabled. However, if you still have access to online resources, there a number of good sites worth checking, including:
- Weather & Hazard Resource Center— links to many assets that our own disaster response crews monitor to stay on top of weather threats.
- Severe Weather Outlook – charts severe weather hazards for the continental U.S.
- Active watches, warnings & advisories by state – expands on all weather watches and warnings in the continental U.S. and allows you to zoom in on particular regions
- Day 1 Convective Outlook – shows tornado probability by region
Preparing for a disaster can take some time, but ensuring that your family can weather any storm safely is well worth the effort. For more tips on preparing your family for disasters, visit redcross.org/beredcrossready.
This post is courtesy of guest blogger Attie Poirier, an American Red Crosser based at the nonprofits’ national headquarters in Washington, D.C. In her three years at the Red Cross, she has assisted disaster relief efforts for many types of disasters – including the devastating tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Joplin, Mo. in 2011. She has also supported several initiatives of the organization’s Service to the Armed Forces division, including disaster preparedness events for military families.