How to Prepare for Severe Weather
Preparing your family for inclement weather
I don’t like tornados, hurricanes, or any other terrible weather event you can think of. I do enjoy a good thunderstorm from time to time.
In fact, on my last vacation, we rented a house at the beach and watched what would become a tropical storm develop. It got wild with us spotting two beach lightning strikes within 200 meters of our porch. It was a great reminder that no matter how developed our society is, the weather can knock us down a few pegs.
Surviving severe weather conditions starts with knowing they’re coming. This is 2022, we can get alerts on TV, the radio, and even on our smartphones. There’s no excuse not knowing that a severe weather event could occur.
I stay informed by using the weather app on my iPhone, plus a weather app from my local TV station. I use the TV station app to view the radar and track where storms are popping up from. But the best alerts I’ve been getting come from Twitter.
I follow my local national weather service on Twitter and receive notifications from their tweets. They’re great about posting what to expect for the day and also when there is a special weather statement.
While having alerts on our phones is great, they may only trigger for our county or within a small radius. I’ve found the Tweets from my local NWS to be helpful because they post about alerts that are happening in our area. This way I can be alerted to developing weather a few counties away. I use this information to get a better feel for what’s going on and can plan accordingly.
Watch vs Warning
Speaking of weather alerts let’s talk about the difference between a watch and a warning. People like me get these confused, so let’s define them now so we all know.
A watch means that conditions are favorable for an event like a tornado. If there’s a tornado watch, that means that one could occur and we need to stay aware.
A warning means the event is imminent and we need to take action. A tornado warning means one is going to happen or one has been spotted already. We take cover during a warning.
Sheltering in our Homes
Inside our home, we need to make a safe shelter spot for our family. A safe shelter is a location where our family can gather in the event of a tornado or other severe event.
The safe shelter needs to be as close to the ground as possible. If there is a basement or storm shelter, that’s best. If that’s not an option, then we need to go to the first floor. That may not be possible in an apartment, but I have more tips for us.
Our shelter spot needs to be as close to the center of the home as possible. We need to put as many walls between us and the storm as we can. This can be a closet, a pantry, or even a hallway if all of the doors can be closed. Avoid windows and skylights as they can shatter.
In this room, we need to keep some supplies stored there at all times. In the event of a severe weather warning, we may not have time to gather our family and supplies. So let’s save ourselves some steps and have the supplies in the room and focus on getting our family inside the shelter area.
The essential items that we’ll need in our shelter are food, water, necessary medications, flashlights, a power bank for charging devices, and a weather radio. Keep a box of these things in the shelter at all times. That way we won’t have to hunt them down during a panic.
Also, we need to bring our kids in on this, so have them put a deck of UNO cards or something in the box so that they can be involved. Plus, they’ll have a game to distract them during any sort of emergency. For more emergency supplies ideas, download my free Disaster Preparedness Checklist.
Planning for our Family
Now we have the basics of what we need to do to be ready for inclement weather. This is a great start and it’s now time to plan for what we’ve prepared for. When it comes to sheltering in place during a storm, every member of the family needs to know the plan.
Here’s an outline of what we need to do, but customize it to fit your family’s needs.
Be aware of what’s happening weather-wise in the area and know if you live in a flood plain. Flooding is dangerous and even mild storms can cause a ton of damage due to unexpected flooding.
Second, make the decision to evacuate for large storms like hurricanes if you feel it’s necessary. Don’t wait until the last minute when the government tells you to get out, go early so traffic will be better and gas stations will have more in the tanks.
Third, once you know there is a warning or that a strong storm is imminent, move everyone to the shelter and monitor the situation with your weather radio and any data-connected devices you may have. Designate one person to be the communications lead, that way battery levels on other devices can stay charged to call for help if needed.
Fourth, wait out the storm. I’ve spent a few fearful moments in storm shelters in my time. Keep everyone calm and talk during the storm. Do your best to keep yourself calm too.
Five, once you know it is safe, send one person out to assess the situation and report back any damage. If anyone needs the help of medical attention, contact first responders.
Just because the storm is over doesn’t mean that the danger is over, too. Look out for live electrical cables and broken gas lines. These can lead to fires or explosions so use caution moving around. And if there is damage, take plenty of photos to help with insurance claims for your home, property, and vehicles.
As we wrap up, let’s talk about storm damage. We can’t predict the kind of damage a storm will cause. But there are some steps we can take to minimize damage.
First, take down any dead or dying trees on the property. Don’t leave it to chance that a decaying tree is going to make it through hurricane season, go ahead and take it down. Likewise, remove any limbs that look like they could come off and hit the house.
You know me, I am a big supporter of having a storm door. Not only do they add an extra layer of protection for home security, but they’ll also protect our homes during storms as well.
Now we have a better idea of how to can keep our family safe from severe weather. I hope you don’t have to use these tips, but now you know them. Take time today to plan and gather materials and then identify your sheltering location. Don’t put this off. A few minutes today will save you a lot of stress when the sky darkens.