The Oklahoma City Tornado

When a tornado strikes you can only hope everyone finds safety and shelter. Yesterday, this was not so. Sadly there was loss of life. Tragic.

In the midwest to the southeast parts of the country tornadoes are a part of life, much like earthquakes in California and blizzards in the northeast. It’s never easy to watch the damage mother nature can create.

There are a few tips you can follow that may help during a tornado. It should be noted there is no guarantee that by following these tips you will be unharmed as tornadoes are naturally unpredictable and freak accidents do occur.

Tornado Safety Tips:

  • If you are in a building with a basement get to it! Avoid windows or doors with windows and get under a sturdy table. If that’s not available use a mattress or sleeping bag. Protect yourself from anything that could potentially fall through the floor above you.
  • If there’s no basement available like in an office building or one level home. Get to the center of the building away from doors and windows. Try to protect yourself from flying debris with a sleeping bag, a mattress, or even a couch cushion.
  • If you are in a multilevel home or office building get to the lowest level possible. If you can’t get to the lowest level get away from the doors and windows. Try to get into the most interior part of the building you can get to and lay face down or crouch down as best as you can and protect the back of your head with you hands.
  • If you are in a mobile home, get out! Even if its anchored to the ground get out! Find shelter or safety in a permanent building near the mobile home. If there isn’t a building available find low lying land, get face down or crouch down and protect as much of your body as you can.  The chances of surviving a tornado are reduced dramatically when in a mobile home.
  • This last tip may be tricky. If you are in vehicle and can see the tornado from a distance you might be able to avoid it or even outrun it. (Though that’s not recommended.) NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recommends the following: “If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible.” They also say “If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.” As a Southerner, I’ve always been told to get out of the car, get away from the car, and jump in a ditch! Here in Arkansas ditches are plentiful. If you can’t find a ditch get low and protect yourself as much as you can.

You can find the NOAA tornado safety tips web page here.

In the past decade or so, Arkansas has had it’s share of tornado outbreaks. These followings tips are based off of my experience(s) and a few close calls. Here’s hoping I don’t have to follow my own tips.

Hannah and Harley’s Safety Tips:

If you have pet(s) like a dog or cat, make sure they have a collar with a tag with your household contact information on it. Harley doesn’t wear his collar inside the house normally, but when bad weather is on the way his collar and thundershirt go on! I hope no one has to follow this tip, but just in case your four-legged family member gets away from the group during a storm the collar will help bring em home.
With today’s technology we know in advance when the weather will get tough. Use that knowledge to prepare.

  • Charge phones (If you have a land line, don’t assume it will still work when the power goes out. Even most land line phones are powered electronically now.)
  • Check batteries in the battery powered radio (If there’s extras let the kiddos have a battery operated toy. There’s always potential for the power to go out even in a thunderstorm. This will give them something to do while you focus on other things like the family’s safety.)
  • Put the kiddos’ bike helmets in the safe spot along with vital medication like inhalers or insulin. You might even consider a blanket and/or pillow.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows where the safe spot is at in the house. Harley may not know a lot of things, but he knows it’s not play time when the collar and thundershirt go on him and the clock radio (with battery back up) goes to our safe spot.

If you don’t have a radio get one! It’s doesn’t have to be a fancy high tech weather radio a clock radio or shower radio will work just as well. Make sure that there’s the ability to run it via battery before you purchase it though. For all of our technology and abilities, it is useless with out the electrical power needed to run it. That’s the beauty of radio: when the power goes out, they are still on!

Hopefully no one will have to follow any of these tips. Knowledge is power and when the power goes out, knowledge and preparation just might save your life.

If you are interested and willing, if you’d like to help those affected by Monday’s disaster in Oklahoma City, OK. Click here. This will take you to the American Red Cross donation site.

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