We all know the drill: Watch the local weather forecast, listen for the warning sirens and take cover in the safest place we can find—a hallway, an office stairwell, an interior room away from windows.
Then we hunker down, ride out the storm and pray we still have power afterwards. If we followed the advice of the Red Cross, we have an emergency kit on hand with the essentials, including flashlights, non-perishable food items and first aid supplies.
It’s always a good idea to prepare your family and your home so you’re ready if the worst happens and disaster strikes.
Educate yourself on potential disasters in your area. One of the worst things you can do is pretend something like a tornado could never happen to you. That kind of attitude can be dangerous.
Anything can happen, but being prepared will better equip you to handle a disaster before, during and after it occurs. When you know your risks and plan for them appropriately, you can help relieve additional stress and worry if a disaster strikes.
Make a plan
It’s essential that your family and workplace have a plan about where to meet and how you will communicate if the power is out and cell phone access is down. You can use Facebook and other social media tools to receive vital information and communicate with families to locate loved ones.
Follow the three C’s of disaster planning:
And make sure to practice your disaster drills. Planning for an emergency and practicing what to do can go a long way.
Have a kit
A 72-hour emergency kit is recommended for any household or business. The kit includes the necessary food, water, medications and supplies needed after an emergency. Use this comprehensive emergency kit list as a guide.
One aspect you may not think about is the tools you’ll need to function in extreme darkness, like a doorstop, power strips and head lamps. Your kit should also include copies of your family’s important documents, such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, etc. If your home has been damaged and you need to leave, you may need these important documents to identify yourself.
Other important survival tips
Here are additional pointers to consider if you are at home and your local news interrupts your regular programming to cover a severe weather alert:
- Don’t change the channel: Keep watching the news and gather as much information as possible about the location of the storm in relation to where you are. Pay attention to which direction the storm is headed. Are you in the hazard area? What are the anticipated impacts (lightening, hail, flooding, tornadoes)?
- Bring pets inside.
- Decide, as the storm is approaching, what the most central room on the ground floor of your home.
- Take any steps necessary to ready this room should your family and pets need to hunker down or shelter in place. Move boxes, clothes, coats or items that might cause further injury such as scissors, mirrors and so forth.
- Locate and test flashlights. Storms often arrive in early to late evening when there is little or no sunlight. Have flashlights for each family member.
- Put on your shoes. Most of us walk around barefoot in our homes. If your home or neighborhood is hit by a tornado, then glass, wood and other debris with sharp edges will litter the area. Protect your feet and your loved ones should the worst occur. It can be difficult to find these items after the fact.
While we hope and pray you never need these tips, preparing in advance can give you peace of mind—and potentially save your life someday.
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About the author
This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.