Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In the Midst of Tornadoes

My timing has been impeccable these past few months. We have been bouncing between Atlanta and Miami and for some reason, each time we are in Atlanta, we end up in the middle of big storms which include thunder, lightening, and the possibility of tornadoes. Such is the case this evening. Here's how we are prepping:

  • I did a bit of research online about how to prepare for a tornado a couple of months back when it became apparent that we were staying in a tornado-prone area. Since tornadoes are quite rare where we live, it only makes sense to find out what the local dangers are and how to prepare for them.

  • I've been glued to the TV news for the past couple of hours. As soon as the tornado warnings start picking up, it is time to be in constant contact with a source of news. The local TV station news has been running continual updates on tornado development for the past few hours. The news is actually telling people in specific areas when they need to seek shelter (they literally say "if you are in ___ area head to shelter immediately!").

  • We checked out our shelter area. Fortunately we are staying in a solid house with a very good basement. Should the news tell us that tornadoes are imminent in our area, we will head to the basement. There is already a bedroom there with a couple of mattresses, pillows, and blankets which will be useful if we end up directly in the middle of a tornado (you want to cover yourself to keep from being injured by falling/flying debris). If we had been in a vehicle or mobile home, we would have already sought shelter at community emergency shelters which have been set up.

  • I don't have my BOB with me! This is unfortunate and unsettling. There is a mini kitchen in the basement which has food and snacks in it which is a good thing. Since it is night time and we are ready for bed, we have placed our clothes, shoes, and personal items (wallet, car keys, cell phones, etc) right next to the bed and ready to put on in a moment's notice. If the tornado situation doesn't clear up by the time we want to sleep, we will move ourselves to the basement bedroom.

  • We made sure our cell phones were charged up whether they needed to be charged or not. Cell phones will be needed to call for help if necessary and will be the only way to connect with online news if the power goes out.

  • Can you believe that this household doesn't have a NOAA weather radio? I can't either. You would think that if you live in the middle of tornado central, you would have one of these radios because if a tornado comes during the night when you are asleep, the radio will sound an alert that will wake you up and provide vital information. I'm getting a radio for the house tomorrow.

  • A battery-operated/hand-crank radio is a very important way to keep up with the latest weather news when/if the power goes out.

  • House insurance is of the utmost importance (especially when you see the pictures on the news of what has happened to houses in the path of the storm that are now smashed into tiny pieces).

  • The after affects of a tornado are like other disasters. There is usually an extended power outage, there are lots of trees down (necessitating removal and/or at least a way to cover the hole in the roof where the tree fell), your vehicle may or may not be drivable (put it in the garage instead of leaving it outside for added protection), and businesses usually are closed (this is why you need gas in your gas tank, cash in your hand, and food and water to hold you over for a few days).

  • On the news, besides providing very specific location information for tornadoes that are touching down now (fortunately a ways north and west of us), they are reporting that fire departments/911 systems are now being overwhelmed in certain areas, a hospital has been severely damaged, and pictures from earlier tornadoes in Alabama this afternoon are showing wide-spread damage to homes, cars, and businesses.

Unlike earthquakes which are more common where we live and which are also highly unpredictable, tornadoes can be tracked and warnings can be issued. Even though it appears there is a great deal of control and predictability around tornadoes, however, the danger of such an event can not be overstated.

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