Last spring, there were some severe storms that passed through my region of the country, creating serious concern amongst my family and friends. Multiple tornadoes were spotted in the area and all the weather information services that we rely upon were directing residents to take cover and prepare for some serious and potentially deadly storms. Based upon past experience and knowledge of my region, I took the warnings very seriously and I must admit that I felt a little bit powerless.
Normally I feel pretty prepared; we’re never prepared enough, but a certain level of preparation gives us a sense of well-being and allows one to sleep better at night. But when a tornado rolls into town, knowing the magnitude of death and destruction that can be caused, you start to second guess how prepared you are.
My family sheltered in place during the storm. Since we don’t have a storm shelter or bunker, we hurried into a room/closet area where there are no windows in our home. Luckily, the storm passed over within an hour or so and things returned to normal. But during the storm, some well-layed plans didn’t happen as they were supposed to. And Murphy’s Law was in play (What can go wrong will go wrong)! Here are some lessons we learned and want to share with you so that you are better prepared.
- Have batteries on hand. Inevitably, something that uses batteries will need more than you expect. Common battery sizes to stock are AA, AAA, 3V, 9V, C and D. Check your equipment for what you commonly use.
- Expect things to fail. Murphy’s Law is always in play. Test anything you think that might be vital during an emergency. Then check it again. My phone failed and I couldn’t call anyone during the emergency. My wife’s battery on her phone went dead. Bad planning!
- Put supplies in the room that you will be sheltering in. You need water and snacks. If you will be there for a long period of time (more than 8 hrs), then your plan should include things like real food, entertainment (playing cards, games), portable toilet (plastic 5 gallon bucket w/ lid works), weather radio, basic first aid kit and more.
- Prepare for stress and heat or cold. During our experience, the electricity was out at our home and the house got hot fast. A bunch of people cramped into a small area tend to create lots of heat and tempers can flare. Have hot or cold weather clothing. Cold drinks go a long way when it’s hot; chemical heat packs and warm clothes help if there’s extreme cold.
- Flashlight and basic tools. Sometimes overlooked – a flashlight is worth it’s weight in gold during an emergency. Include some basic tools like hammer, screw drivers, crowbar, etc. You may have to break through debris to get outside of your house after a storm. Put them near the emergency supplies/storm closet.
- Technology will let you down – go old school. Develop different strategies for getting what you need from different sources. For example, during the storm I thought I could depend on my phone’s weather app; The app failed, then my phone froze. Luckily, I had my trusty old weather radio and lots of batteries! A land line phone may be an option too, if satellite phone is not affordable.