Skies have gotten dark. Rain is coming sideways. Winds are howling. Lighting is lighting up the sky. Thunder is rumbling the floors. Hail is pounding on the roof. Sirens start screaming for you to run to safety. What do you do?
If you grew up in Nebraska, you stand on your front porch and watch. But seriously though, what should you do? Severe weather preparedness is important for any family. Here are some tips to get prepared.
1. Educate yourself
Severe thunderstorm warning? Severe thunderstorm watch? Tornado warning? Tornado watch? Heat Warning? Flood warning? Hurricane warning? Lighting? Research your area and the kinds of severe weather possible. Learn the terminology. Learn how to identify the sirens. Learn the local radio and television news channels. Learn the best course of action to take in different situations.
Here is a great handout to educate yourself on severe weather.
2. Educate your family
Teach your children weather terminology. Teach them how to identify sirens and warnings. Talk to them about the possibilities so they are not surprised if an emergency does arise. Be open and honest. The more they know, the less scary severe weather will be.
3. Get a weather radio
There will be times in which you cannot hear the sirens. A weather radio can be extremely helpful if you are indoors. Find one that has battery backup if the electricity goes out.
4. Have a family plan
Know where to go if you are in a severe weather emergency. Where is the safest place in your home during a tornado? What action needs to take place to stay safe? What do we do in a heat emergency? What do we do if we see lighting? What are you going to do if you are driving? At a friend’s house? At a store? On a walk? Talk to your children. Make sure they know the plan.
5. Practice the plan
Schools perform fire drills regularly so the students are prepared and knowledgeable. Severe weather drills are just as important. Practice your plan at home. Have your children tell you the plan. Talk about exceptions and changes– What would you do if you were walking home from school? What would you do if mom and dad were not home?
6. Identify others who might need help
Do you have an elderly neighbor? Does Grandma live in a condo with no basement? Include these people in your plan.
7. Pack a severe weather bag
We pack bags of snacks/toys/books/coloring supplies for church, for trips, for over-night stays at Grandma’s. Have a bag ready in case you have to take shelter for several hours. While it is important to be honest with your children about what is happening, there is no shame in distracting them during the severe weather warning.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about severe weather, the more prepared you will feel. We cannot control Mother Nature, but we can take precautions to control ourselves.