Updated: Mar 13, 2020
We are facing some uncertain issues in this country right now. Being aware, cautious, and prepared can help reduce stress and anxiety levels for families. For more information on being prepared for a pandemic, severe weather, and other emergency and disaster plans, check out https://www.ready.gov/ for more information.
1. Have a plan for how to receive alerts for emergencies and warnings, and for where to shelter or where to evacuate. Know what the warning system in your community sounds like.
2. Create a family communication plan. FEMA.gov has a great download for this at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/133447
3. Consider things like if you have pets, special medical needs, dietary restrictions and other situations specific to your family. Make sure to include these things in your plan.
4. Practice your plan. Gather the family and go through the steps of what you would do in the event of an emergency.
In addition, specifically for a pandemic, there are several actions you can take to be ready and to limit the spread of germs and infection. You can prepare by keeping a 2-week supply of food and water in your home. If you are on prescription drugs ensure you have a continuous supply of these medications as well as other health supplies. Keep copies of your medical records on hand and up to date. If you were to become sick, talk with your family about who and how they will care for you. Stay safe and stay well everyone.
*Below, I share my story of how I was personally affected by a severe weather emergency, which prompted me to put this information together. However, with the concern of Covid-19 growing and ever-changing, I find that it is most important to begin with the important tips for being ready for a pandemic.*
Recently, parts of Tennessee were devastated by tornados. It is an unfortunate reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be. However, it is also a reminder of how we should prepare for emergencies in our own homes. We can easily be caught off guard, and I personally know how unexpected a disaster can be.
August 19th happens to be our wedding anniversary. Now it is also known as the day that we experienced firsthand what it feels like to be in a tornado. In 2010, my husband and I were just finishing dinner on the patio at a local restaurant less than 2 miles from our house. It was a beautiful, warm day with lots of sunshine so when the tornado sirens sounded we were both quite surprised and didn't think too much of it. No rain or storm chances had been in the forecast, and there had been zero severe weather warnings! We continued to walk out towards our car and started driving towards our house. We could almost immediately see the change in the color of the sky once we started driving. It was also clear that the wind had picked up dramatically. At this point, we were halfway between our house and the restaurant so we forged ahead. The winds continued to increase as we drove, and then the hail started falling. My husband pulled his truck off of the road and we attempted to shelter in our vehicle behind a building less than 1/4 mile from our home. The hail pelted our brand new truck and the wind was so loud we could barely hear each other, even though we were less than a few inches apart. The most terrifying moments came as we sat there feeling the truck shake and almost lift off of the ground. The total time spent in this moment was about 45 seconds, but it felt like hours.
First things first, heed a warning siren! We were lucky. Very lucky that it was only an EF-1 tornado. Winds were up to 90 miles an hour and hail was golf-ball sized! Almost every single home in our subdivision sustained wind and hail damage. Several of our neighbors lost trees, fences, and even an above ground pool.
If any of you have seen one of my favorite movies, Twister, you probably understand what EF-1 means. For those of you that haven't had the viewing pleasure, EF stands for Enhanced Fujita. It is the scale for which the intensity of tornados is measured. The scale ranges from 0 to 6. The higher the number, the more intense the tornado. April, May, and June are the most likely months for tornados to occur. Here in the upper Midwest, our tornado season can last until July.
With the busiest months for severe weather approaching, here are some tips for helping you and your family stay informed and prepared. These tips can also be applied in preparation for any emergency or disaster. Being prepared helps you stay informed and stay safe.