Are you ready for severe weather season?

Nope.  I’m not either.  But, like it or not, it’s coming.

There were 16 tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2014.  That’s pretty low.  We average (since 1950) 54 per year.  The most tornadoes on record in a single year was in 1999 when 145 tornadoes were recorded in Oklahoma.

Tornadoes are the sexy storm but we get a lot of damage from straight-line winds, hail and everything that happens when we have severe weather with or without a big funnel touching down.

Because of this, it’s always a good idea to spend the first month of spring preparing your family for severe weather.  Here are some really easy steps to make sure you’ve done your best to avoid disaster:

KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS:  AND WATCH FOR THEM EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A TORNADO WARNING!

  • Rotating cloud
  • An approaching cloud of debris
  • A loud roar that sounds like a freight train (and yes, it really does)
  • Really strange still and quiet shortly after a thunderstorm
  • Debris falling from the sky
  • Weird color changes in the sky

PLAN AND PRACTICE

Make sure your family knows what to do and where to go.  Identify the places in your home that are best:  small rooms, interiors, no windows, bathrooms are great.  Pick the place to go and then practice getting there.  Also make a plan for if you are not together.  If there is no power, no phone or cell service, where will you meet?

BUILD A KIT

Put a tornado kit in the space you have designated as your tornado shelter.

  • Battery-powered flashlight (change the batteries every season)
  • Battery-powered radio or crank radio (radio stations have high priority in times of crisis.  They are often the first to have power restored or may be working on backup generators)
  • Spare batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Complete change of clothing
  • Work gloves
  • Shoes (at night, you don’t want to be in your shelter with no shoes.  Having shoes in your kit is a must)
  • Whistle or air horn in case you get stuck and need rescue
  • Dust mask
  • Food and water for two days
  • Any life-saving medication you need – a two day supply
  • If you have small kids, a toy or two or game to provide comfort

OTHER THINGS YOU DON’T THINK ABOUT

Do you have all your important documents in a fire-safe, water-safe place?  It might be important.  Things like insurance papers, birth certificates and ID’s need to be protected.

Do you know what to do if you are in your car or away from home?  There is plenty of great info to help you make those plans, too.  See the entire list of things you can do to prepare at fema.gov