Given the horrific tornadoes that devastated Washington, IL and killed 8 people, I thought a post on tornado preparedness would be appropriate.
I’m thinking that we all know where the safest place is in our homes to go in case of a tornado – basement, under the stairs, in the center of the home in a small room like the bathroom, etc.
But here are two things that most people do not consider:
1. You are trapped in your tornado shelter by debris for 3 days – this actually happened to a lady last year.
- Do you have water in your tornado shelter area?
- Do you have food in your tornado shelter area?
- Do you have an emergency whistle – 3 short blasts is SOS and can be heard for up to a mile – in your tornado shelter area?
- An emergency radio in your tornado shelter area to know when the danger has passed?
- Do you have at least one garbage bag for waste in your tornado shelter area?
- Blankets for warmth in cold weather?
- A first aid kit and 3 days of any absolutely necessary medications?
2. You’re on the road in your vehicle when you encounter a tornado, what do you do (assume that you can’t out run it and there is no nearby home where you can take shelter)?
- Do you drive into a grove of trees for shelter?
- Stop, check your seat belt and just hang onto the steering wheel?
- Exit your vehicle and lie down in the lowest ditch you can reach?
- Try to find an overpass, exit your vehicle and crawl up under it?
- Say a prayer, step on the gas and try to get through it?
Unfortunately, our tornado safe spot is in the central hallway and/or closet. I DO have a weather radio stored in there (recently changed the batteries!) I do have a box of MREs in the closet, water is stored in nearby bedroom so easy to grab quickly. Linen closet right there, can grab blankets/sheets. BOB and FAK within easy grabbing distance too. Need to add some garbage bags…As for the car situation, growing up in tornado prone area, I know the safest bet is get out of the car and get into a ditch, but if there was a nearby overpass, that would be option 2 for me(even tho that is no guarantee either).
BTW, I live in a small house, <1K square feet, so when I say things are close enough to grab when the sirens go off, they really are…
The one thing I truly believe in is the emergency whistle! A whistle can be heard for up to a mile. If your house collapses in around you, the rescue workers may not be able to hear your cries for help but they will be able to hear a repeated 3 short blasts on a whistle to locate you!
We have have no basement in the house we’re currently living in, no basement in the one we’ll be moving to next year, and a wet basement at the big house where tenants live downstairs and upstairs. We don’t store anything there. Our city has been through several tornadoes in the last 30+ years so I know what it’s like. My children were in a school that was demolished by one. Had a parent that was at a factory that was demolished by one also. They had sent all the ladies to the women’s bathroom which had a “maze” type entrance. Mother said they could feel the wind trying to suck them out of the bathroom, so hiding under an overpass or in a ditch doesn’t seem to me something I’d want to do. When the weather forecasters start warning us to watch, I get everything prepped. Last year, when the sirens went off, one was headed towards us, and went pretty much over our house. I could hear the debri hitting the steel siding of our house…I was in the tub, emergency radio in hand, cell phone in hand, flashlight in hand, pillows around me, motorcycle helmet on (yes…motorcycle helmet on!) Food bars in a baggie & a couple of bottles of water. Tub was full of me and my stuff! LOL (wifey here) Mr. WE2 was at work but I called his cell to let him know I was in the path and where I was hunkered down. When the power went out…I knew our city was hit hard. When it passed over (my radio let me know so) our cell towers were off and on intermittently, but I did get through to Mr. WE2 to let him know I was ok but that he might have trouble getting into our city. It was difficult, but he did find a way around the debri etc. My combination whistle/compass/LED light is on a lanyard that I use to call my dog when she’s out of sight, and the 3 blasts works even when hiking…if you get lost etc. As for out running a storm…we did that also this past summer. We were in another city doing some shopping & saw a storm to our west so we turned on our car radio & listened to the forecasters tell the location, direction, and speed of the storm. We drove opposite of it, got behind it and followed it home :-( keeping the radio on all the time just in case it changed direction or another one popped up behind us or ???
I know they recommend a bathtub, but ours is on an outside wall, so IDK that would be best place for us. I feel the central hall/closet is safer in our home. No basement here either. I dislike not having a basement.
@WE2 Pretty harrowing experiences there! Wonderful tips on the motorcycle helmet, etc. Thanks!
The motorcycle helmet is probably the best idea I have heard in a long time – thank you :)
I also have no basement, bathtub is make of plastic and on an outside wall. Fortunately, I’m in a “minimal tornado danger” area. That doesn’t mean NONE, just maybe 1 every 5-10 years. My extremely tornado-phobic Ohio-native ex was attending a party about 30-miles-as crow-flies from here when the back porch was torn off by one, so they DO happen. I have a pike-back fire-axe and a crowbar in my bedroom – maybe I need more around the house.
Unfortunately, I think if I was in the vehicle, I’d probably ignore all the standard advice, go into 4WD and put pedal to metal with an eye on the rear-view mirror, and hope I picked the right 90-degree angle to the funnel. I don’t advise this, just what I’d probably do.