Tornado Safety Tips

I filmed this video of tornado safety tips in 2011 just after North Carolina suffered an uncharacteristic tornado outbreak with deadly outcomes. This first weekend of March 2012, we’ve just seen one of the earliest and again deadly tornado outbreaks on record taking over much of the weekend’s news and affecting a dozen states. Spring and all its fury has clearly arrived early.  Its time to get prepared.

Today I’m inside my closet and while it may seem to be an odd place to do a video, but you may have noticed this past weekend there was a terrible outbreak of tornados that lasted over 3 days.  Having grown up in the midwest in Ohio and Nebraska, I’ve seen my fair share of tornadoes and spent more than a few days and nights in my family’s basement. The hard thing about living in a state like North Carolina, is more often than not, construction does not involve basements.

Throughout our state as in many warm weather states, we have a lot of mobile homes that unfortunately are an extremely unsafe structure in severe weather.  Even if you did everything right and went to the smallest room that was enclosed and interior like a bathroom or a closet, a tree can still fall on your home with devastating outcomes.  The other challenge many warm weather states face is a lack of resident awareness.  While we were under a tornado warning, I had a neighbor call me and ask “I did not grow up in the midwest! What do we do?”

Here are my tornado safety tips focused on identifying what to make sure you bring to the safest space in your home:

1. Care for your Keepsakes: Make sure that you in the space you go into, if its big enough like a large closet or a basement area, that you also store cherished keepsakes there.  Think of things that you can’t bear to lose but only those so precious that they would fit into just one box.  Perhaps its family photos or keepsakes for your children, just keep it simple.

2. Grab your Phone: Not only because it can help you communicate, but it will also enable you to automatically take pictures or video any damage you might have to report.

3. Review your Records: I love this Documents Organizer by Suze Orman ~ intuitively designed to enable you to simply slip your important documents inside and once completed, your most important papers are organized and ready to go. Its water resistant and very durable and if there is damage to your home, these documents will be safe right by your side. When it comes to needing insurance policies or other key personal info ration, you’ll have no trouble finding what you need.

4. Carry your Weather Radio: I mentioned in the beginning of this video, in North Carolina the sirens don’t sound. I cannot understand why our civil defense sirens don’t go off which leads people to falsely trust their TVs or get some kind of signal to watch the weather unfold. This battery operated Midland Weather Radio has one purpose, to sound off when there is any kind of severe weather day or night. It sits upstairs on my husband’s night stand to warn us when we need to take cover. When our power failed and the TV was out, we could still hear this weather radio, sounding off and updating reports of the track of the storm. By the grace of God, the storm changed direction and I kid you not, was tracked to come literally through our neighborhood but instead hit about 3 miles from our home and did tremendous damage throughout Wake County. This weather radio helped us do all we could to protect ourselves and are easily found at Walmart or your local drugstore for just $29.

Ironically March 4-10 is North Carolina Severe Weather Awareness Week. Different for every state, now is a great time to discuss severe weather safety with your family AND to make sure you have your safe room ready at a moments unexpected notice, because all too often that’s how tornadoes unfold. I hope these tornado safety tips help you prepare to keep your family safe this tornado season.  Tell me…where do you take cover when a tornado warning sounds?  What do you keep stored in that same space?

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