We can’t order the weather but we can be ready when it’s delivered. And if we’ve done our homework, tornado season can pass a little more predictably.
First, you need an adequate homeowner’s insurance policy that covers windstorms. Windstorms include tornado damage. However, in areas more likely to experience tornadoes, a separate addendum to the policy may prove beneficial.
Make sure to keep your replacement coverage up to date. If you had to repair or rebuild your home, the necessary materials and labor costs would be more expensive as the years go by. To refurnish your appliances, furniture, cookware, and personal effects would be costly.
Next, know how much your deductible is for wind or tornado damage and keep that amount set aside–just in case.
Keep a list of your most valuable possessions and find out if they need extra coverage on your policy. You don’t want to find that your expensive collectibles, jewelry or high-dollar recreational equipment have a preset limit will not cover replacement.
Check with your insurance agent to see if your policy will cover the cost of things like rent, eating out and car rental in the event that you cannot live in your home during repairs or must shop to replace your automobile.
A long list? Yes, but it’s much better-handled step by step when the days are more sunny than in the rush after a wind incident.
Emergency provisions and safety implements
Secondly, we should keep an easily accessible emergency kit in the event that we lose power or water. This should also include an emergency “meet up” plan.
That is, in the event that the family is apart or forcibly separated during a fire or natural disaster, each member knows where to go to regroup.
An emergency kit helps to put control back into your hands and can provide initial security to calm and reassure.
What should be in your emergency kit?
- 3 day supply of water for each person. One gallon per day.
- 3 day supply of non-perishable foods. High protein foods liked canned meats and peanut butter is a good choice.
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
- Flashlight and candles.
- First-aid kit.
- Prescription medications.
- Can opener.
- Food for pets.
I keep a grab-and-go bag containing our most important papers; such as birth certificates, ID cards, passports, social security cards, and list of medical conditions.
A Basement That Comforts Even During Tornado Season
I’ll never forget the time I was huddled in a damp, musty basement with my two children under age three and nine other neighbors. It was more like a root cellar with its half brick and pressed-mud walls.
The tornado siren was blaring off and on most of the night and my little ones cried pitifully. The elderly man from next door was having chest pains.
A few weeks later, we were sitting in chairs in another neighbor’s basement. We munched cheese and crackers and there was plenty of water bottles for all. No one was crying and no one became ill.
We were certainly thankful for both neighbors, especially when we emerged to find the debris left on all our lawns. But it was clear that creature comforts help to steady nerves and calm spirits.
So third, in our preparations for tornado season–if you have a basement, make at least a small corner of it ready for a “sit in.” It doesn’t have to be fancy. And if you have a neighbor on the block with a large, accommodating basement, discuss using it as a temporary shelter. Thus, it pays to befriend your neighbors.
Follow the Weather
Tip number four– know your local weather. Yes, it can get boring to keep your eye or ear on what’s up in the sky but it can pay off during times of inclement weather.
Since we were a military family, therefore not accustomed to the various climates and weather patterns of every place we were stationed, we relied on the locals.
In one neighborhood an elderly gentleman took a liking to us and kept us informed rain or shine. Because of his kindness, the whole block was ready for high winds and thunderstorms and the tornado that ripped through one August afternoon.
When the skies speak of impending weather, always check your local TV channels for watches and warnings. Then heed all instructions. Better safe than sorry is the rule.
When the Sun Returns
I lost a dear friend during a terrifying blizzard. Within a matter of hours, the sun was shining and the snow was all but gone. And I thought what a change, what a loss when the sun was destined to shine shortly thereafter.
Tip number five: be patient. Remember that the stay in the basement, the canceled social event, and the canned hash are temporary. If we dash out heedless of the potential threat, we and our loved ones can suffer for a lifetime.
During tornado season, and at other times of threatening weather, we must align with nature and respect the forces over which we have no control.
I recall an occasion when I nearly shoved my grandkids into the hallway and surrounded them with thickly upholstered chairs. They were screaming in fright. Had grandma lost her mind? The tornado blew over the house, with its deafening rush of wind, and we lost power.
When the danger had passed, I explained what had happened and we went outside to see the litter all over the block. Grandma was scary for a moment but laughter returned just moments later.
After a Hit
We can’t stop nature but we can prepare for it. If we have adequate insurance, an ample emergency kit, a calm and safe place to shelter, heed weather authorities, and patiently ride it out, we can tackle the aftermath.
I’ve witnessed the cooperation of neighbors, communities, and entire counties as they rebuilt and renewed grateful lives after a natural disaster. In fact, we became closer than before and our neighborhood watch extended beyond crime and spying on each other’s children.
Are you ready for tornado season? If not, what’s holding you back? If so, reach out to your friends and neighbors to help ensure the welfare of all.
You may even become the block “weather master” who will be appreciated for years to come.