With severe storm and tornado season upon us, it’s not uncommon to get a thunderstorm warning, flash flood warning or even tornado watch/warning quite often as the weather is struggling to shift from winter to spring. You never know exactly where the storms will cause the most damage until they’re upon you, and many times, that can leave families without power or much of a back-up plan in place. If you’re wondering how to prepare for a severe storm or tornado quickly, easily and with little prep, you’re in luck.
Fortunately, you can take some steps to prepare for a bad storm and stay safe. Although a severe storm or tornado generally passes by fairly quickly, they can be devastating, and you want to ensure you’re in the safest place possible when and if they do hit your town.
Generally some signs that predict a tornado is nearby or on the way are a rotating/funnel-looking cloud, green sky, extremely heavy wind or a sound that’s similar to a freight train (in which case the tornado is very nearby). Aside from hearing the sirens go off in your town or watching the weather, these are all signs you want to get to your safe place immediately. So, in the event of a severe storm or tornado warning, here are a few tips to help you stay prepared and safe.
1. Fully Charge Your Phones & Tablets Before the Storm Hits
One of the most helpless feelings is having the power go out with little to no battery left on your phone. If something were to happen during the storm or you feel like you need to reach out to someone, not being able to use a phone cuts off your safety line completely. If you only do a couple things to prepare for the storm, make sure you have at least one device you can use for contact, fully charged, that doesn’t have to rely on wifi.
2. Keep a Flashlight & Candles Handy
If your power does go out, you want to be able to see where you’re going. Lighting candles around the house eliminates having to carry around a flashlight, and bonus if they’re aromatherapy candles to alleviate stress. Keeping a flashlight ready or using the flashlight on your phone is also a good option.
3. Have a Space to Take Cover
If possible, in the event of a tornado, you want to head into a basement – preferably a room in the basement with no windows. If that’s not an option, the next best thing is to head to a bathroom or closet away from the outside walls of your home (again, a room without windows). Cover yourself with cushions or a mattress if a tornado is coming to prevent debris from hitting you. If, god forbid, you’re stuck outside, you’ll want to get in a ditch or somewhere that’s lower than the ground on either side of you. My family has a rather large windowless closet in the basement we can head to if we need to take cover. If the possibility of a tornado looks legitimate, we can take cushions, pillows and blankets into the closet to hide out for a while. This is also where having a fully charged tablet comes in handy, as you can put on a show or movie to potentially distract the kids and keep them from panicking.
4. Download a News App or Grab a Battery-Operated Radio
The best way to stay connected is through a device that doesn’t require an outlet or wifi. If you lose power or you’re taking cover, a news app or radio can keep you updated so you know what’s going on around you and when it’s safe.
5. Create an Easily Accessible Emergency Bag
This bag can be for any major catastrophe and is a good idea to have on hand if you need to evacuate, take shelter or whatever the case may be. Put a small first aid kit in the bag, flashlight, snacks, water bottles, blanket, battery-powered charger, batteries and any other necessities you can think of. The idea is to put this bag together and leave it prepped in an accessible spot indefinitely, so you can quickly grab it to take with you for any emergency.
6. Prep Your Home Temperature
If you’re in the dead of winter or summer and there’s potential to lose power, try to prepare your home’s temperature before the storm hits. If it’s hot out, turn down the AC and get your house as cool as you’re comfortable with before the power goes out, and vice versa if it’s cold. With major outages, it can sometimes take several hours to get power back in your home. If your power does go out, call your power company and let them know you have an outage. A couple more tips if your power does go off is to refrain from opening the fridge to keep your food cool, and unplug some major appliances to prevent a surge when your power comes back on.
Although you can see when and where a severe storm or tornado may hit, often the strength of the storm or precise areas that will actually be hit hardest are not predictable. So if your county is broadcasted in the path of a severe storm or tornado, take cover, because you never know.