One thing I never was, even at my most fearful, was unprepared for severe weather. Maybe it was because Dad was a firefighter, but I honestly don't remember a time when I didn't know exactly what to do in a tornado or severe weather situation. I gave my first oral report on tornado preparedness in 4th grade.
Last night dangerous severe weather was headed into our area and for the first time in a long time we had reason to believe we might need to go to the basement. We were under a tornado watch, had a TOR:CON of 5 for this area, and could watch the super cells and large line of thunderstorms approach on the radar.
When Mom moved into this house she picked out a spot in the basement where she and my sister could shelter. One of the first things she told me when we moved in was where the "safe spot" was. She always has a gallon of water down there but yesterday evening we made some extra preparations.
Here are the simple things we did to make sure that if we had to head to the basement we'd be set:
- Mom put an extra gallon of water in the safe spot.
- We figured out which cats would need a carrier and who would just follow us into the basement.
- Next to the stairs to the basement we each put a pair of good walking shoes to grab on our way down the stairs.
- We charged cell phones so that we could keep abreast of radar without power and/or contact help if needed.
- A wind-up radio/flashlight, battery-powered flashlight, extra batteries and a couple boxes of snack bars rounded out our "Grab If" collection. The only change I'd make for next time is putting those "extras" in a bag to make it a faster grab.
These are, however, simple preparations anyone can make when you're under a TORNADO WATCH, so long as you already know where you're going to take shelter.
One last note: I was designated "weather watcher" last night. Since a lot of the nasty weather wasn't supposed to get to us until the middle of the night, I offered to stay up and keep an eye on weather. It was my job to rouse the house if we needed to take shelter from a tornado or strong straight-line winds. Why did I stay up? Because nighttime tornadoes kill more people than daytime ones. You can't rely on thunder or the winds to wake you up in time. You can get alerts on your phone or weather radio but what we have isn't selective enough with the alerts and will wake us up for a flood warning six counties east of here. So since I didn't have to be anywhere today, I stayed up until 3 AM.