We live in tornado alley, therefore we have learned to stay prepared during what has been termed our ‘fifth season’. While tornados form quickly, the storms themselves are easier to forecast. The National Weather Service has come a long way since I was I child, they can now begin notifying the areas that are most likely to have severe weather several days in advance. This gives folks ample opportunity to make the arrangements they need to make.
Now the way we do things is a combination of our past experiences and our living situation. We don’t have a cellar on our property, the cellar we use is next door at my in-laws. It sounds scary but really it’s only 250 feet or so from our house. When our children were younger we developed a buddy system to load into our vehicle in the fastest and most efficient manner, starting with turning it around to face the road eliminating the need to back up. We do still turn the vehicle around, but the teens don’t need the buddy system anymore.
We have a family tornado protocol. As soon as a severe thunderstorm watch is issued, one of us backs the vehicle into the driveway, then all of the phones and tablets are put on the chargers. Life just goes on as normal, except we keep a closer eye on the weather. When a tornado watch is issued everyone puts their shoes on and moves their Go Bag next to the front door or into the vehicle, more on that later. It’s not a frantic, running around time, it’s a very calm matter of fact process. We also take some time and tidy up the house, just in case some on needs to stay with us after the storm. Since we have a generator our friends and family know that if the power goes out they are welcome here. I will also grab a shopping bag and throw in some extra food; bread, peanut butter, jelly, cookies and the like. Severe weather can sometimes derail dinner and no one wants to be stuck in a cellar with a bunch of hangry people.
Each member of our family has a Go Bag. The purpose of the bag is to help provide for each of us in the event our area is struck by damaging weather.. This bag contains a change of clothes( plus a few extra pairs of socks and extra underwear), work gloves, snacks and a comfort item stuffed animal, blanket, sketchbook). We add in a few other things when severe weather is anticipated; chargers(after the phones are completely charged) being the most important. My bag is a little more in depth, I’ll go into detail about that in another post. I begin purchasing snacks,and other items that need to be replaced, in January. A few items here and there. Each person makes a list of what needs to be replaced and what they would like in their bag. This is also when we make sure the clothing in the bag still fits, very important!
Early in the spring, if we can, we pick a nice day and clean the cellar. The floor gets swept, then everything gets wiped down and we check for bugs or other critters. The supplies are checked for expiration dates and a list is made as to what needs to be replaced. We replenish the water supply as well, after a hot summer and a cold winter it’s just the best idea. The towels and blankets are washed and put back in place. Our camping supplies are stored there as well so they are checked and cleaned if needed.
In the event the weather starts looking questionable I don’t wait for a tornado warning to be issued, we will go on to the cellar. I’d rather wait down there for a while and have nothing happen than get caught in our house during something serious. We once missed our opportunity to go to the cellar during some of the most severe weather we have ever had. We were stuck in our house while 75mph winds blew tons of rain at us. The house was shaking and you couldn’t hear anything the wind was so loud. I have never been so scared in my life! I honestly thought the house was about to come apart. We don’t wait that long anymore!
Our overall goal is to be safe and cared for in the event of an emergency without having to use government resources. Make no mistake, our city does a great job during severe weather, I’d just rather leave those resources for people who really need them.i don’t mind the planning or the prep work and we have been blessed with enough resources to provide for our needs. Planning ahead makes it easier to purchase what we may need a few things at a time.
If you do not have an underground storm cellar or basement, the Red Cross recommends going into a small, windowless, interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.