Here are a few procedures you should take in the event of a tornado. This information was obtained from the National Weather Service. You can read their full safety guide for staying safe in all kinds of severe weather including thunderstorms, lightning, flooding and tornadoes here.
- Get below ground if at all possible or into a storm shelter/safe room
- If you can't get below ground and/or no safe room is available get into a small, windowless, interior room such as a hallway or closet on the lowest level of the building
- If you are outdoors, seek shelter immediately.
- If shelter is not easily available drive to nearest shelter
- While driving, if debris becomes present do one of the following:
So here is a suggested list of items you should have in a readiness kit and you should remember to always take this kit with you or better yet, have already in your safe place so that he don't have to go searching for it after the storm has passed. By then, it may be too late.
The number one item you need in your safety kit is a device that will automatically receive the weather alerts such as severe thunderstorm storm warnings and tornado warnings from the National Weather Service. These devices include NOAA Weather Radio and phone notification services. I strongly recommend two separate devices to protect you in the rare case that one system fails. I, myself, have two weather radios, one by my bed and another in my safety kit, and I also subscribe to WeatherCall, a warning notification service.
NOAA Weather Radios are terrific for learning about the dangerous weather in your region; however, they have one major setback and that is the fact they can not provide notifications based on the new storm based warning issuance utilized by the NWS and instead can only notify you of warnings based on an entire county. This increases your false alarm rate and in turn it is known that users eventually either ignore the weather radio or turn it off all together. If you have a weather radio, ask yourself how many times you have been awoke in the middle of the night to discover the warning is for an area of the county tens of miles away and its track is away from your location? I am sure you will answer this question by saying, "most of the time the darn thing goes off."
As a whole, this was the major reason why the NWS went to the warning issuance based on a storm and its track rather than the entire county. They are now able to reduce the false alarm rate and are able to provide more specific and timely warnings. Unfortunately, the weather radios that are in use, today, still don't have a way to take this new practice and utilize it. Instead, this has lead to several companies offering a notification service. These services are subscription based and will typically call a phone and/or send a text message or email to notify you of a warning issued for a specific GPS coordinate. In this manner, when you sign up you provide your address and when a warning is issued that encompasses your address you are notified by the service you have requested. This is much more precise and eliminates the false alarm rate and the crying wolf syndrome many of you have become accustomed to. I love my WeatherCall! I can go to sleep at night and know that I will be alerted WHEN AND ONLY WHEN, a severe weather event is on track to impact my home. I also have the upgraded mobile version that will track me to the exact location I am at. In this case, I am notified of any warnings that will directly impact ME wherever I am at.
WHY Subscribe to a Notification Service Such as WeatherCall
I strongly encourage you to check out and subscribe to one of the services provided by WeatherCall. There services begin at YEARLY RATEs of just $9.95 and the service WORKS. I know this first hand. In fact,in the tornado event of April 27, 2011 many users of WeatherCall were only notified of impending danger because they had a WeatherCall subscription. When the tornadoes ripped through Madison County, Alabama they impacted a major TVA power generation and transmission facility. This took the power down for much of north Alabama. In fact, the NW Doppler weather radar was impacted and went down. While the NWS was still issuing warnings the weather radio transmitters were down with the loss of power. The one thing that was still working, in many locations, were the cell towers. This was because they were operating on a battery back up. As a result, subscribers to WeatherCall who were using cell phones were receiving their notifications while the weather radios and tornado sirens were quiet.
While I strongly recommend WeatherCall there are other similar services available. Here is a list of those that I am aware of. I can't recommend any of these because I am not familiar with just how well they work. I am testing the new Baron Services Saf-T-Net for Alabama to see how it does compared to WeatherCall.
There are additional services, not listed, that are free; however, the are FREE because the issue their warnings based on the entire county or zipcode and are not site specific to your location. Please be aware and check any service out before subscribing.
Additional Safety Kit Items
- Water - One Gallon per person in your household per day. (1-2 Week Supply)
- Non-perishable Foods - those that are easy to prepare like canned soup/pasta (1-2 week supply)
- Midland Hand Crank NOAA Weathe Radio (provides you with weather radio, AM/FM radio, flashlight, USB charger for cell phone and operates on AC/DC, batteries and hand crank power)
- First Aid Kit
- One Week Supply of Medication and a List of Medication Being Taken
- Swiss Army Knife or Other Multi-Purpose Tool
- Sanitation and Hygiene Items (In Boyscouts we always had tampons ready. They make for great blood absorber)
- Emergency Contact Information
- Cash,Cash,Cash (Don't expect ATMs to be working)
- Children's Games
- Baby Supplies
- Pet Supplies (don't forget your extended family)
- Manual Can Opener
- A set of Clothes for each family member
I hope this information helps you to be safe in the event you need it. I hope you never do but as I learned as a Boy Scout, "Always Be Prepared"