Know Where to Go
Have a safe place. If you have a basement, that’s the place. Go to the side or corner where the tornado is COMING FROM. (If a tornado lifts the house a bit and then drops it a bit further away, you will not be under it, supposedly. Another somewhat safe place is supposed to be inside any super-reinforced structure, such as a stairway closet, hallway, or shower stall.
Stock the Safe Place
- One fresh gallon of water for each person.
- High energy snacks.
- Up-to-date medications, or copies of prescriptions.
- Flashlights with fresh batteries. Candles and matches in watertight containers.
- Protective headgear for each person. Hail happens during tornados; bricks fall. A bike helmet is better than nothing. A thick mattress is nice, too.
- A radio that works by battery or crank. Fresh batteries.
- Light jackets for everyone. You don’t want to be too hot, but it will probably rain.
- Diapers, wipes, and formula if you have a baby. Renew this as baby grows: keep it current.
- Spare set of car keys.
Have a Plan
- Know where you will meet, if separated. (Choose several places in case one blows away.)
- Know whom you will call (someone outside your area) for an info base.
- Make rules for tornado watches. (Everyone put on sturdiest shoes and jeans. Everyone put one keepsake in the basement. Move cars under hail shelter. Etc.)
- Make rules for tornado warnings. (Everyone stays indoors. Everyone be aware [no headphones on, etc.] Everyone make sure nothing obstructs path to basement, etc.)
- Make rules for take cover. (Go directly to basement, put on your helmet, and get under the mattress, now. Do not stop for anything.)
- Drill your take cover plan, exactly like a fire drill. Practice helps! Also, should you be injured or incapacitated in any way, the children may still know what to do.
- If you can, have a bed or two in your basement and put the children to sleep down there, with shoes on, when the nights are dangerous. This saves endless trouble and worry. If you can add a few toys, they can play down there, too, when the days are dangerous. If you have no toilet in the basement, you may want to add a small pot, too.
Okay, there you have some ideas to get you started.
My siblings and I slept in the basement many nights, to the sound of the radio broadcasting the cities and counties in the path of some tornado. Some nights I remember being lifted down those stairs, still half-asleep. Some mornings I awoke to the sounds of my parents readying for another day, upstairs.
The basement was the one my parents built immediately after that infamous tornado in Ruskin Heights.