One of the biggest factors that save lives in the event of an emergency is preparedness. The tornadoes that have struck Granbury, Cleburne, and now Moore, Okla. have brought to mind the importance of having a plan in the event that a tornado touches down in your neigborhood.
The first step is having a safe room or a storm shelter. Designate a closet, laundry room, or bathroom that is on the ground floor and has no exterior walls or windows is the best place to take shelter in your house. Bathrooms work well as the plumbing and bathtub provide sturdy support. If you live in a mobile home or trailer, know where your community’s storm shelter is. You can also have a storm shelter installed in your yard or house.
In the event of a severe thunderstorm warning, go ahead and pack up your safe room with blankets, shoes, bike helmets, bottled water, a battery-operated radio, as well as your purse or wallet with identification and important documents. Parents of infants and small children should put their diaper bags and carriers in the safe room. If you have time, a spare mattress can be used as cover as well.
If you have pets, make sure they have their collars, leashes, and they are in their pet carriers or at the very least in the safe room so that you’re not spending precious seconds corralling your animals when the time comes. Keep some food or treats in the safe room to entice them or calm them down. Here are some tips from the American Humane Association on storm preparedness for pets.
Have a drill. Students and faculty at schools have drills so that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Have a drill with your family so that everyone knows what they need to do, where they need to go, and what they are responsible for as far as storm prep.
The American Red Cross has an awesome app for iPhone and Android phones that will alert you to severe weather with alerts. It also has the I’m Safe feature that will send a message to Facebook and Twitter that says you’re okay, all with one click. Go to redcross.org to download this app!