Tornados are not just the extraordinary twisters we see on gripping programs on cable television. They are real weather systems that could occur anywhere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that tornadoes have touched down in every state in the U.S.; therefore, the landing place for the next potentially catastrophic tornado could be in your backyard. Ask yourself one simple question regarding extreme weather, such as tornadoes: Is my family prepared?
If the answer to that question is “no” or you are a bit hesitant, kick yourself into “Survivor Mom” mode, and begin working on your family’s tornado emergency plan. Take these actions now:
- Keep an emergency kit handy and regularly verify that everything is operable
- Determine where you and your family will find safe shelter in the occurrence of a tornado
- Make sure your entire family knows how to shelter in place
- Make sure everyone knows what to do when the tornado is over
- Decide who will help you deal with restoring your home and life
Keep an emergency kit handy and regularly verify that everything is operable
During times of extreme weather, the National Weather Service is the best source of information. This federal service is the same one that news meteorologists rely on, along with other tools, to make their forecasts. You can get this information first hand by having an NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) weather radio as part of your emergency kit. These are sold online and at many stores. Also, include large durable flash lights, batteries, several first aid kits, non-perishable canned foods, a can opener, and gallons of water with your kit. In addition, keep rubber boots, blankets or sleeping bags, rope, a small tool set, and flares in your emergency preparedness kit. Once per year, check to make sure the canned items have not expired and make sure that your radio, batteries, and flashlights still work. For a full checklist for your kit, you can review the Ready.gov website, created by the federal government to help families prepare for unforeseen disasters.
Determine where you and your family will shelter in place
If local officials issue an evacuation notice for a tornado, be attentive to the call. However, if no notice is issued or you receive it too late, make sure you have taught your family how to get to the safe shelter designated for this specific event. Get to a basement or interior room, as far away from windows and movable objects as possible. In addition, get under a table, heavy blanket or sleeping bag. If your home does not have a basement, have your family get under a stairwell, into a bathtub or under a mattress, as close to the center of the building as possible. Once you are sheltered in place, kneel down, bend over and place your hands behind your head to protect your body. If you cannot need kneel, roll on to your stomach and use your hands to protect your neck and head. This is how to shelter in place during the actual storm. To make sure your family is ready in advance, identify the shelter in place options throughout your home and practice the safety position.
Make sure everyone knows what to do when the tornado is over
Once the tornado is over, use your first aid kit to help any family member or neighbor in need. Listen to your radio for information from professional law enforcement and emergency personnel. Avoid lighting matches, in case any gas lines were damaged. Also, stay away from downed power lines that may still be active and potentially a threat due to electrocution. Typically, the Red Cross will be on standby to help your family and others in need, so learn about your local Red Cross and their process for administering help during disasters. Teach your family all these tips for tornado preparedness.
Decide who will help you deal with restoring your home and life
After the devastation of a tornado disaster, families have to deal with trying to get their homes and lives restored. The first step in this process, after addressing medical emergencies, is talking to your insurance company to receive financial resources to cover your losses. This process can be overwhelming and stressful. To reduce the anxiety of this process, you can work with a public adjuster who is an expert on insurance and can be your advocate and intermediary with the insurance company. A professional and experienced public adjuster will handle the insurance communications and claims on your behalf so you can simply focus on taking care of your family and getting back to normal life.
David Dallmer is a licensed public adjuster living on the East Coast. He is passionate about providing the best property damage services possible.