How to Prepare For Severe Weather

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“Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst”

The day started out beautiful and sunny. The forecast called for a strong chance of thunderstorms later in the afternoon. Plenty of time to run some errands and maybe grab some lunch before the rains drowned out the sunshine. An hour later, all that is left of the town is uprooted trees, piles of rubble that were buildings just a short time ago, and the feeling of complete and total loss. Few things on this planet can cause a person to stop dead in their tracks, paralyzed with fear, and overwhelm them by the sheer power and magnitude of Mother Nature. Tornados are capable of all of this and much worse.

While it is impossible to predict a tornado, severe weather, or other natural disaster, it is possible to prepare for one. By preparing a family emergency communication plan and an emergency kit, your family stands a better chance of making it through a disaster and being reunited.

Designated Meeting Place

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Emergency Communication Plan

The kids are at school, your spouse is out of town on a business trip and you were running errands when the tornado hits. What do you do? Use your Emergency Communication Plan. A family emergency communication plan is an easy to make plan that helps keep your family in touch in case of an emergency.

1. Designate an out of state friend or relative as a main point of contact for all household members to check in with to report they are out of danger. Be sure to notify the friend or relative and let them know that they are the point of contact.

2. Make sure that all family members know the phone number or have the information for the point of contact; program all cell phone numbers with “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) with the contact’s phone number, update all emergency contact cards at work and at school, and provide family members with change or a calling card in case cell phones are out of service.

3. Place a contact card for each family member in backpacks, school bags, purses or wallets. Information on the card should include their name, address, phone number for the out of state point of contact, any medications or allergies, and the names of their family members. FEMA offers a downloadable and printable Family Emergency Contact Form and Contact Cards.

4. Designate a safe place for all family members to meet at if an emergency strikes when the family isn’t together. Plan out how each family member will get to the safe place (from work, school, while out shopping, etc.).

5. Check to see if your community offers an alert service and sign up. Most systems will send a text message, email and an automated call to notify subscribers of pending bad weather, local emergencies, fires, road and bridge closures, etc. You can sign up by contacting your local Office of Emergency Management or visiting the Federal Office of Emergency Management (FEMA).

Emergency Kit Example

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Family Emergency Kit

Once you have your emergency communication plan created, the next step is to build a family emergency kit. After an emergency or natural disaster, it may be up to 72 hours before emergency services can reach you and your family. Therefore, it is very important that you have supplies on hand to survive on your own.

1. Food and Water. When preparing the kit, store a minimum of three days of non-perishable food for each person in the household. Take into consideration food that the family will eat and any special dietary needs. Select canned foods, dried goods and other foods that do not need refrigeration, water, milk, cooking, or any special preparation. Remember to add a manual or battery operated can opener and eating utensils.

2. Water. To calculate how much water to store in the emergency kit, estimate a gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. Add additional water if there is nursing mothers or children in the family, and double the total amount of water in very hot climates.

3. Medications and First Aid. Don’t forget to include any prescription drugs family members may require and a basic first aid kit.

4. Basic Supplies. Include items such as a wrench to turn off utilities until the power is restored. A hand crank radio and/or a NOAA weather alert radio for updates and information. Include a hand crank flashlight or a flashlight with extra batteries, a whistle to summon help, and a solar charger or inverter for charging cell phones. And don’t forget about supplies for the family pet or pets. For a complete list of additional emergency supplies, check out the Emergency Supplies Check List.

5. Shelter and basic services. Include duct tape and plastic sheeting in case you need to make temporary shelter. For sanitary situations, pack trash bags, plastic ties, moist towelettes and hand sanitizer in the emergency kit. Add sleeping bags, blankets and a spare set of clothing for each person in the family.

6. After the emergency kit is complete, store the contents in either a sturdy plastic or metal container to keep out pests. Remember to replace the food and water items every six months with newer items and write the date they are put into the kit on the outside of each item. Place your emergency kit in a designated place where it will be ready in case you have to vacate your home in a rush. Ensure that all family members know where the kit is kept and who is responsible for retrieving the kit in an emergency.

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"Always Be Prepared"

Tornadoes, severe weather and other natural disasters can occur almost without warning. No one knows when an emergency situation may strike. A natural disaster or emergency can be one of the most frightening things to happen to a family. But, with a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that your family can be reunited and make it through the disaster until help arrives.

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Share your Emergency Preparedness Hints & Stories 25 comments

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Heya, Phil! Yeah, no matter where you live or what form of natural disaster is prevalent in your area, the key is to be prepared for it. Thank you so much for stopping by!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Alecia! I have to admit, when I was living in Florida, we never really got ourselves ready for hurricane season. We never really had to. Thank goodness. I grew up with earthquakes and we were always prepared for the aftermath of those. Glad you found some of the information useful.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 4 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

It is great to have reminders of these things. We're pretty set on all fronts except for an out of town contact for emergencies. Here in southern Quebec the most common type of emergency is a power failure during a thunderstorm or ice storm. We generally don't get tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes, but we do get severe snowstorms sometimes. Either way, being prepared at home is really key. Great hub voted up and useful.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

This is very useful especially this time of year when several parts of the country are at risk for hurricanes, tornadoes, or both. I live in a hurricane zone and we've had a good bit of hurricanes but fortunately not lately. We do a good job with everything except keeping an emergency kit. But this hub serves as a reminder as to why it is important. Great tips!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Mary, you've read and commented now. :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Heya, Midg. You guys get stuff way worse than tornados. I'm sure you have to prepare for all kinds of scary things! Thank you so much for digging this out of the archives. :)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I sure thought I had read and commented on this Hub before but I don't see it. I must have because I linked this Hub into mine on preparing for natural disasters.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

This is useful stuff, TT. We should all be prepared in the event of any disaster! We don't get tornadoes in Singapore, but because our land area is only slightly over 600 km wide, we are pretty much as vulnerable to any emergency that there possibly is. Thanks for the useful share!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Heya, RC. Thanks. :) I started out writing 'serious' crap and got bored. :) So, I switched to comedy and it's more fun. Um...zombies...had to add a 'little' bit of fun! :)


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

TT -

Good to read something different from you. Comedy writers tend to be herded into nothing but, and it's nice to see how well you can write without falling into the trough. Very valuable info ... but what's this Zombie apocalypse deal at the end? lol Great Job!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

JamaGenee, you are so right on about all of it! :)


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Mhatter99, I'm happy you found this helpful. :)


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this useful article. one truly never knows. Loma Prieta voluteer.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

TToomb, that's the difference between people from the Midwest and people from the West Coast. Midwesterners know how to get out of the way of the rather narrow path of a tornado...because they've had a warning to do so. NO warning of an earthquake affecting an area several miles wide is far scarier. Not to mention areas prone to 5.0+ quakes have different construction standards.

There's really no way to design a structure to withstand a direct hit from a tornado, and even if there were, it'd be cost-prohibitive to build each and every home and business to the higher standards since the chances of being hit are so slim.

A friend who grew up in the Midwest but now lives on the East Coast laughs when people cringe at the mention of a tornado but think nothing of being in the path of a hurricane.

So I guess it's what you're used to!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Ah yes, earthquakes...home sweet home! LOL I would actually take earthquakes over tornados anytime. Tornados terrify me but I'm so used to earthquakes from growing up around them. The only one that every scared me was the 7.9 that hit near my home on November 3rd, 2002 on the Denali Fault. I was living in Wasilla and we were without electricity for a couple of days. That was fun. lol! :)

A tremor during a tornado watch...isn't that, like, one of the signs of the apocalypse? :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Great tips! Growing up and living in Kansas most of my life, I was used to living under the threat of tornadoes. (Two places I lived suffered damage.) Don't think, though, I'll ever get used to living in Tornado Alley On Steroids here in Central OK! The OKC news channels take bad weather verrrry seriously and will preempt regular programming for hours. I'll stay glued to the TV until the threat passes, ready to grab my Emergency Kit if a funnel of any size is headed my way!

What nobody can predict OR plan for, however, are earthquakes. I didn't know until I moved here that OK is #3 (after CA and Alaska) on the list of active faults. One weekend there were three strong enough to give my little abode (and my nerves) a good shaking even though I'm 20 miles from the epicenter.

I guess the good news is (so far) there hasn't been a tremor during a tornado watch! That would definitely send me packing to another part of the country!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Karre. I had to educate myself on tornados, not really familiar with them. All I knew was that my mom (from OK) was scared to death of them and rattlesnakes. :) Glad you found it useful.


Karre profile image

Karre 4 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

We live in a very tornado driven environment. So glad you wrote this article, great info!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, Billy, and you are oh so right! NOAA is going around to all of the volunteer firehouses and training the firefighters, but there doesn't seem to be much in the way of preparing for the average joe or joette. :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Excellent hub TT....we have these preps in our schools all the time for earthquakes, and towns near Mt. Rainier have emergency plans in case of an eruption. An ounce of prevention...... Great job!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, MsDora! Thank you, eric-carter! I appreciate you stopping by and reading. Hope you both have a great day! :)


eric-carter profile image

eric-carter 4 years ago from Fulham, UK

Indeed a great hub


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Voted up and useful. Thanks for these tornado preparation tips. Very good job!


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. Author

Thank you, teaches! I appreciate the comments and even more, you stopping by to read. :)


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Your hub is a valuable piece of information to post in any home for such severe weather related emergencies. Your first photos are pretty vivid and do intensify the meaning of the hub! Great suggestions and ideas that will keep you safe. Voted up.

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