Huddled together in my basement my family awaited the finale of the tornado. Lightning struck leaving me blinded, and thunder immediately followed that shook my bones. The sound of the destroyer was like a freight train pushing forward at full speed. It was a sound that just twisted your guts in knots and almost made you sick. Outside, winds up to 130 mph in the shape of a funnel shook homes, stripped barns and lifted whole trees out of the ground, all in about ten minutes. Thousands of dollars in damage were discovered immediately after the tornado left town. The twister had covered four consecutive miles on the ground. The path cut a straight line through houses, a field and between our neighbor’s house and ours.
The damage to our home made for a dangerous living environment until repairs were made. We stayed with family for a week while the whole town worked together to rebuild what the tornado had destroyed. If we had not been prepared before the storm, the outcome could have been very different.
Tornado season is right around the corner, and being unprepared can be very dangerous. Around 27 tornadoes whip through Missouri each year, according to erh.noaa.gov. They can rip trees from the ground, shake a house from its foundation and leave people stranded in their mangled houses for hours on end. Being prepared for these deadly storms can save you and your family from being without the necessities. More importantly it can save your lives.
The National Weather Service has created a checklist for you to practice and help you be prepared in case of a tornado. The first point on the checklist is to know the risk for the area you live in. Search the television, radio, or Internet (www.weather.gov) for weather watches and warnings. After learning of a possible tornado you should immediately call or check up on elderly people, children or disabled people and make sure they are aware of the threatening weather too.
You also need to take the watch or warning seriously. Many people make the mistake of thinking the weather condition looks fine, but reality is that conditions can rapidly deteriorate and become dangerous. Be sure you are in a safe, secure location suitable for protecting you in the dangerous weather. Having a “safe room” in your home for severe weather like tornadoes is ideal. If you do not have a “safe room” huddling against an internal wall in a basement with protective gear over your head would work too.
While you are in your “safe room” or basement you will need a Public AlertTM certified NOAA Weather Radio and battery back up. Keeping batteries on hand in your storm safety shelter allows you to hear important updates while the power is out.
All of these things can help you prepare for a tornado. Note that tornadoes occur at all times of the night and day so staying on your toes and being prepared gives you an advantage and allows you to get to your safety shelter even quicker.
Certain preparations can be done at any time. Assembling a tornado ready kit can save your family from being stranded without the essentials needed to live. You will need:
- A first aid kit and essential medications
- Non-perishable food and can opener
- 3 gallons or more of water
- A battery powered flashlight
Once you have put the kit together store it in your storm shelter so that when you need to take cover your kit will already be there. Severe storms can trap you in your shelter for days.
Tornadoes are lethal and can end lives, demolish homes and instigate financial instability. Being prepared for a tornado could save your family’s lives.
For more information on tornado preparedness visit http://www.ready.ga.gov/Press/Press-Releases/Tornado-Preparedness-Requires-a-Plan.