I’ve lived on the edge of Tornado Alley for most my life. This season, is the worst that I can remember. So many deaths… 210 in Alabama, 124 in Joplin, and now 13 more last night in Oklahoma/Arkansas/Kansas. Associated Press is reporting a total of 494 deaths total this year so far. It’s mind-numbing.
After living in Texas for my whole life, I’ve gotten kinda complacent with the idea that you always read about tornadoes, and even if the sirens go off- it will never happen to my home. After the past couple of weeks, however, my ideas have changed.
Last night, we were warned way in advance to be prepared for some bad weather and tornado warnings. Oklahoma was getting hit right as I was about to leave work. At first I really didn’t think much about it, reverting back to my “it won’t happen here” mindset. But then, a good friend who blogs over at Baby Rabies (funniest parenting blog EVER!) wrote a post detailing her tornado survival kit and safety place. She thought that it might be overkill- but better safe than sorry…and I completely agree. Details of the post are here.
I thought about this on my drive home as I remembered the many who have lost their lives in the past month, who may or may not have been worried when they first heard reports of an impending storm, who may or may not have been prepared…. When you grow up with this weather, you just get used to the reports and sirens, and it’s easy to forget that it can strike anywhere at anytime. Being that I’m not in the middle of tornado country, we usually get a couple of funnel clouds but not too many on the ground destructive tornadoes. BUT- I’m a mother now- I have a child to think about and the images I see of the aftermath of the destruction north of me remind me just how important it is to be prepared.
So I went home- put on some sturdy shoes and gathered a strong durable backpack and stocked it with:
- three large water bottles
- protein bars
- phone charger
It was sparse, but a start.
As our tornado sirens went off last night- my heart raced and I was scared- but I was comfortable knowing that we at least had something.
My neighbor- who is not from Texas- does not have a safe place in her open house plan so when the sirens went off- she came barreling over here…holding a twin mattress atop her head and trying to herd two small boys and two dogs. The image today is making me laugh…I laugh about it now- only because we had three kids squashed in a bathtub, with a crib mattress ready to cover them- the two of us on the floor and toilet- ready with a twin mattress to cover everyone up- and FOUR dogs running wild in the room next door. We.felt.ready. Even though nothing happened, we had some funnel clouds and minor storm damage, we felt prepared. The kids aren’t old enough to really be scared, they thought we were camping or something. We sang songs, checked the weather on our phones, and after awhile- it passed.
So today, I’m thinking, that we need to have a true tornado pack- something larger that will hold much much more. I’m researching on various sites and there are several items that are important that I’m missing:
- first aid kit (Hello? How could I forget that?)
- ponchos – yeah it will probably be raining
- helmet for the kiddo
- pictures- for identification purposes
- utility bill or copy of driver’s license (to prove that you are you)
- plastic bags (always handy)
- rubber bands (always handy in McGyver situations)
- duct tape (you never know)
- changes of clothes
- blanket or that super cool shiny tarp thingy they give runners after a race
Wiki How also has a nice feature on how to stock a tornado kit, but would be functional for other natural disasters as well.
From the American Red Cross website:
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and wildfires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
So if anything, this information can be useful not just for tornadoes but for any sort of natural disaster that can strike.
My thoughts and prayers truly go out to those who have lost so much this year and I truly wish there was more I could do to help.