Please pray for everyone affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Also, please remember that this is when we need to join together as neighbors. I support a smaller government; but the flip side is that we have to prove that we’re capable of taking care of each other.
Here are some random thoughts on getting through tornado events:
- Clearly, tornado shelters save lives. From early reports, it appears that a lot of people survived this disaster by sheltering in something designed to withstand a tornado.
- But despite that, it’s also possible that if an F5 tornado hits your home, or any tornado with the right circumstances, there isn’t much you can do about it. That’s where prayer takes over.
- If you make it through the actual tornado, beware that your battle for survival may have just begun. Residents all across the area now are without power, running water, shelter, tooth brushes, dog food, anything – and since everything is relative, those are the lucky ones.
- I’ve heard many people, survivalists most, recommend having a storage location for many of your “preps.” The general recommendation is something about 5-20 miles away. Why? For exactly this scenario. Your home gets wiped out, but somehow you make it through… but now you at least have something to fall back on, assuming you have a way to get there. Put yourself in Moore, OK right now – where would you go? What would you be doing? Yes, there are shelters and aid workers like Mercury One providing hot meals. But the less of a drain we can put on the system, the better off we ALL are. Save the hot meals for those who really have nothing.
- If your home wasn’t hit at all, it’s still very likely that you’re without power and clean water. What will you drink? What do you have that needs electricity? I highly recommend some method of filtering or purifying water, even in your own home.
- Cash on hand is good. ATMs and credit cards may or may not work.
- Have a communications plan. Some suggestions:
- Cell phones are obviously the first choice. Remember that if you can’t get a call to go through, it’s possible that data will. Try text messaging, or even twitter. If none of that works, you may consider turning your phone completely off to save the battery until you have an opportunity to try again later.
- Have a friend or relative in another state that can serve as a messenger. There have been times when local calls are all down – but long distance calls go through just fine. So have someone that you can check in with who lives across the country.
- 2-way radios are always a great option. Many people in Moore, OK were at work when the tornado hit. Imagine that for a second – you’re ok, but now all the power is out, all the phones are down, and 60 square miles of your town are now just gone. Imagine the panic when you can’t get a call through to your family. So yes, you need them with you wherever you go.
- Have a series of rally points. I recommend at least 3:
- Clearly, the first choice is to meet at home.
- The second choice should be within sight of your home – a park, a field, a neighbor’s house, etc. If you can’t get home, you’ll want to know when your family members try to get home as well.
- The third choice would ideally be within walking distance, but in an area closer to more roads. For us, it’s a fire station about 1.5 miles away. If our neighborhood gets blocked, it’s likely there may still be access, via different roads, to this fire station. Besides, meeting in a place where they can render first aid is a huge bonus.
- The fourth choice would be a location across town or in a neighboring town. If a wildfire picks up and catches my neighborhood on fire, or a huge tornado wipes out 60 square miles, it’s likely that our fire station is gone (or evacuated) too. Our fourth choice is a relative’s house, about 20 miles away.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows the plan. You’re already in a horrible situation and your stress level will already be at an all-time high. Don’t make it worse by panicking because you have no idea where to go, what to do, where anyone is, etc. Have a plan and stick to it. Think about your plan now, when you have a clear head. Wargame it – consider different scenarios and what you’ll need in those scenarios. But a word of caution: don’t have too many plans. If you have a fire plan and a tornado plan and a blizzard plan and 50 other plans, the reality is that you have none. Stick to something you’ll remember.
- Know your neighbors. Know if anyone near you is likely to need special care. On our street, for example, there are only a few houses with basements. If you’re one of the few with some kind of shelter, be prepared to have to round everyone up to hunker down with you. It’s your job.
- Last-minute thought: there was a family on “I Survived…” recently that survived a massive tornado, and one of the things they did when the sirens went off was to each put on a helmet – bicycle helmet, baseball helmet, anything. What a brilliant idea, and if we have safety gear at home, wouldn’t you rather use it? What a great thing to keep in your shelter.
One side-note for surviving a tornado – trust those with the authority. A ridiculous number of tornado fatalities are people who are standing in their living rooms looking out the window thinking “wow, I wonder if that thing is really coming this way?” They say TAKE SHELTER for a reason. When they say that, they’re not actually saying “this thing is gonna be awesome – get the cell phone and record as much of it from your front yard as you can.”
We had a small tornado touch down in Minot, ND when I was there. There was only one injury (a broken arm), and it was a guy who decided to climb on his roof to film it as it touched down. Don’t be that guy.
The Red Cross has a free tornado app. Get it here. There are also first aid, hurricane, wildfire, and various other Red Cross apps.
Have a plan. Practice it. Then help your neighbors. And pray without ceasing.