The incredibly destructive power of a tornado should be discussed between you and your family every year. Just like a fire drill, a tornado safety plan should be in place and practiced before a storm hits. When away from home, look for tornado shelter signs in the building that you are in, which guide you to rooms reinforced to withstand the power of a tornado’s strong winds and flying debris.
Some homeowners build their own underground shelters, or use a room such as a basement or another interior room away from windows as their shelter. These are the safest places to be during a storm.
While a tornado may only last a few minutes, it has the power to completely destroy everything in its unpredictable path. Should you ever need it, a tornado kit should be stocked in your shelter, with enough supplies for a few days. It is important to pack for several days in case you or your family is without public services such as electricity for days after a storm, or in the unlikely event that you are somehow barricaded inside the shelter and are waiting for help.
The essential supplies that should be in every tornado shelter are:
- Non-Perishable Foods (canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, baby food)
- Can Opener (what good is food if you can’t open the can?)
- Radio set to the local news or NOAA Weather Radio (either hand-crank or battery powered)
- Visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ for broadcast frequencies.
- Batteries for the radio and flashlights
- Camping Toilet or other sealable bag solution for waste
- First Aid Kit
- Clothes (including heavy boots, gloves, and clothes if exiting into a devastated area)
- Blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows
In addition to these supplies, some people might want copies of their important documents to be with them in the shelter. These would include insurance information, important phone numbers, and prescription information. This information is not necessarily essential for your shelter though, and can just as easily be stored in a safe deposit box in your local bank.
Another supply that some might think of as essential would be candles or matches. Matches and lighters could do more harm than good if in an area destroyed by a tornado. It is likely that gas lines would break, and any source of ignition presents a very serious fire hazard.
Hopefully you should never need to use your tornado shelter kit, but your stock of rations should be replaced with fresh and unexpired supplies every year, at the least. Preparedness is key when dealing with unpredictable weather situations, and at the first sound of warning, you and your family should find shelter and stay there until storm warnings are cleared.
About the Author: Stephen Luke is a writer for SafetySign.com, a leading supplier of safety signs, traffic signs, parking signs, and more.