The tornado that struck Kentucky and several other nearby states a couple days ago came as a shock to many. These sorts of massive tornadoes aren't supposed to happen in December, and the physical size of the tornado may be a record-setter as well. While there is only so much people can do to prepare when something this monstrous happens, any knowledge, skills, and supplies you can gather ahead of time will be helpful. Here's how to prepare:
- Take a CERT class, a first aid class, and any other preparedness/survival-oriented classes you can.
- Ensure you have home insurance, including tornado insurance, if you live in an area where tornadoes could happen.
- Prepare your home for a tornado ahead of time.
- Update your home inventory a couple of times per year (leave a digital copy of this inventory somewhere other than your home).
- Have a NOAA weather radio on hand.
- Set your cell phone to receive disaster warning alerts (several other apps may be useful for this as well).
- Make sure you have a Bug Out Bag and that your vehicle is prepared to escape disaster as well.
- Google 'how to prepare for a tornado'. There are thousands of pages of tips to get your prepared for this sort of disaster.
- When tornadoes have been predicted, keep constant watch on live tornado reports (these can be on TV, on the radio, on YouTube storm chasers/weather channels, via tornado tracking and other websites, etc.
- When a tornado is imminent, take immediate action.
- Determine ahead of time where you will shelter from a tornado in a variety of situations.
- If you have access, continue to track where the tornado is moving in real time (this guy did an excellent job of reporting minute-by-minute details of the tornado's progress last weekend).
- Use other social media to see real-time reports as well as to seek help if needed (this lady used Facebook both during and after the tornado to seek help).
- Assess your immediate surroundings after the tornado has passed. Is anyone injured? Can you smell a gas leak? Is your home off its foundation?
- Provide basic medical care to anyone who is injured and call for help if needed (you may or may not be able to get through to 911, sometimes texting 911 works better, you can also use your HAM radio or social media to ask for help, or you may need to take the person to a local fire station or hospital for care.
- Outfit yourself for safety when you leave your home or tornado shelter (reflective vest, boots, work gloves, hard hat, goggles, mask, etc.). Be 360-degree aware of your surroundings and avoid dangers like downed power lines, broken concrete, broken glass, etc.
- Make a basic assessment of your home to determine if remaining in your home is safe (major damage, a home that has slid off its foundation, active gas leaks, etc would make your home uninhabitable).
- Check on friends or neighbors if possible. Let friends and family know you are safe either via phone, HAM radio, or social media as soon as possible.
- If you need to shelter elsewhere, determine if you have a safe place to set up your own alternative shelter or if you need to go to a community shelter.
- Listen to your radio/check local media on your cell phone if you still have access in order to determine what your community is doing to assist people (shelter information, food and water give-aways, mobile medical clinics, etc. will be put out via the media as soon as possible).
- Make a cursory video review of your home and surroundings to use later for insurance claims.
- Do not start clean-up until you have contacted your home insurance company; they may want to send an adjuster before you begin clean up.
- Document everything. Keep any receipts for purchases, record any and all damage you see, record the time you spend cleaning up, etc.
- For additional assistance check local news sources, FEMA, your city/county/state department of emergency management websites, etc. More info about the local disaster response may take a bit of time to get set up but it will eventually be available to those in the community who need additional assistance.
- More info here, here, and here.