Storm season is definitely something that must be taken seriously, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
“Whether you’ve lived in this state your entire life, or just relocated recently, it’s important to be prepared in the event of a tornado,” Peek said. “Advanced preparation can save your life and the lives of your family members.”
The best place to be during a tornado is in your designated safe place. It is imperative to make sure your storm shelter is ready to go. In the event of a tornado, that is not the time to discover the shelter is full of black widow spiders, standing water or the space has been used for storage and there is no room for people.
“If you discover water in your shelter, inspect it and determine how the water is getting in,” she said. “Repair any cracks to help keep out moisture. If water is coming in through the door, homeowners will need to take steps to divert rainwater away from the entrance.”
Spiders and other uninvited guests also get in through small cracks. Sealing those will help eliminate them.
Once the shelter is free of any pests, spiders or rodents, clear out any cobwebs and sweep the floor. Next, prepare an emergency kit of essentials in the event you have to shelter in place for a while, or if your home is significantly damaged and no longer inhabitable, requiring you to live elsewhere for some time.
“Include things such as nonperishable foods, can opener, flashlights, extra batteries, a battery operated radio and a first aid kit,” Peek said. “Bottled water is essential, too. A good rule of thumb is about one gallon per person, per day. Also, make sure everyone is wearing shoes when you take cover in the shelter. Your feet will need to be protected in the event of storm damage when you emerge from the shelter. Your lawn could possibly be covered with broken glass, splintered wood and downed trees.”
Think about all of the daily needs, as well as the special needs your family may have. Families with babies and small children should pack diapers, formula and other child-related essentials. Older adults will have their own special needs that must be taken into consideration. Make sure you have medications ready to take into the shelter.
Because young children can become frightened during a storm, a special stuffed toy or blanket should be brought into the shelter to help comfort the child.
“A weather emergency is nerve wracking under any circumstances. If you’re prepared, knowing your family has what it needs for a few days is just one less thing to worry about in the midst of all the chaos a storm can cause,” Peek said. “Being prepared can help ensure there is less risk for injury and more of a guarantee that everyone will come out of the storm safe and sound.”
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