When we were kids, we had tornado drills at school but I was also one of the last to go through bomb drills, where we crawled under our desks in hopes that a few inches of pasted board would save us from nuclear holocaust.

This is national disaster preparedness month and there are some REAL threats that you and your family can talk about and plan for.  I'm not telling you to sign up to be on Doomsday Preppers (although it is FASCINATING to watch what you can do with an old train car and a back hoe) but I am suggesting that a few talks with people in your family and you could all be a little safer.

BE INFORMED What threats are most likely in this area?  Tornadoes, Wildfires, Flash Floods, House Fires, Shootings.  Do you have a plan for each?  Does your family have a plan?  What ARE the risks and appropriate steps to take?

MAKE A PLAN and make sure your family KNOWS that plan.  Drill with your family once a year so they feel comfortable that they know what to do.  Modify the plan as the kids get older or you get less mobile.

  • Tornadoes
    • Where to go in the house when the warning sounds
    • What to do in a car (especially if your kids drive)
    • Where to go in a public building like the mall
    • If you can't get home, and cell phone service is out, where will we meet or whom do we contact?
  • Wildfires, Flash Floods
    • What do we take and who is responsible for which items?
    • Where do we meet up if we get separated?
  • House Fires
    • Make clear exit plans for each room of the house (especially bedrooms)
    • Designate a meeting spot that is far enough away to be safe
    • Make sure you have exits that are appropriate for age (if the kids have to go out the window and are on the second floor, do you have a fire ladder they can use to climb down?)
    • Practice your drill and fix any problems (stuck windows, etc).
  • Shootings
    • Follow all police and emergency responder directives (if your kids are at school and police say don't go -- then DON'T GO).  Know the phone numbers to call and the questions to ask.  Don't get in the way and let responders do their job.  Have a family text that means "drop everything and respond now" so you will be able to make sure family is safe.

BUILD A KIT like we talk about every single tornado season.  Wildfire kits are probably not an issue, but you do need a tornado kit and a cold weather kit in your car.  Tornado kits usually have a 3-day supply of water, radio and batteries, flashlights, extra tennis shoes, non-perishable food for a few days and a few days supply of critical medicines along with a first-aid kit.  Put it where your family is trained to go in a tornado and update the food and water every year before the season begins.  For cold weather, you want to make sure you have a few warm blankets in your car, water, flashlights, flares, a small dig-out shovel, ice scraper, extra socks and shoes.

Want to know more?  Check out the government's webpage on getting and staying prepared.