Preparing in case of tornadoes

The Daily Ardmoreite
Danielle Wells Carter County FCS Educator

 Oklahoma residents of all ages know the importance of taking cover when the threat of deadly tornadoes looms. But, how can families prepare ahead of any dangerous storms that may take aim at the state? Although it is hard to resist putting off getting ready for something that may never happen, Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said preparing in advance decreases the chances you or a family member is hurt or injured during a serious storm. “Tornadoes can develop very quickly,” Peek said. “Having a plan and provisions already set aside will give you and your family extra moments to seek safety.”

Three easy actions families can take ahead of a tornado include creating an emergency kit, developing a family communications plan and signing up to receive emergency alerts. A basic emergency kit contains supplies such as nonperishable food and water for at least three days, a flashlight and extra batteries and a first aid kit.

For a complete list of basic supplies, visit this site. The emergency kit also should include items related to any special needs of family members and pets, such as formula and diapers for babies or food and a water bowl for pets. Begin building the kit at home by checking shelves, drawers, closets and cabinets for useful items, then consider trading any extra items with other families and friends for items to complete the kit.

When it comes to creating a communications plan in case of an emergency, families can download and print out a template for a customized plan. “As you’re developing your plan, think about where you should go and how you will communicate with each other in different situations,” Peek said. “The plan also should designate a friend or relative out of the state who family members can contact to report they are safe.”

Each family member should know the emergency contact and program the number into their cell phone as “ICE” or “in case of emergency.” Finally, families should sign up to receive local alerts and warnings via cell phones, smartphones, tablets and other devices. For instance, the National Weather Service provides timely updates via its website, app and social media outlets. Some local news stations also offer viewers the option of signing up to receive weather alerts on their cell phones as well as online and through various social media platforms. “The more prepared you are in advance, the more quickly you and your family can take cover in the event of a dangerous storm,” Peek said.

Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.