Showers and May flowers are not the only thing April brings in the Midwest and Southeastern United States. April also means the increased chances of severe weather.
This week, weather forecasters are calling for this year’s first major outbreak of tornadoes. Forecast models are predicting the potential for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from Nebraska to Georgia.
There are a few things you can do in advance to secure your property and your person.
7 Actions to Take Ahead of a Tornado Outbreak
1. Store or lock down outdoor items. Things like pool chairs and umbrellas will essentially become missiles in a tornado. So will lumber and firewood. Store any loose materials or furniture indoors until the threat has passed.
2. Move valuables to higher ground and secure them. Flooding rains often accompany severe thunderstorms. If you are in a flood plain, consider moving valuables out of basements and to the main level of your home (or a second story, if you have one). Also consider adding a heavy safe and bolting it to your floor or concrete slab.
3. Have cash on hand. A couple years ago, in the Alabama tornado outbreak that left several dead and many thousands homeless, I remember reading articles of stores only accepting cash because power and credit card networks were down. It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand to pay for gas and groceries should your town take a direct hit from a tornado.
4. Buy a weather radio. We have a couple weather radios, including a hand-crank weather radio, which is great because it doesn’t require batteries. Weather radios will keep you informed as the tornadoes approach, and give the all clear when the storms have passed.
5. Fuel up vehicles. Now’s not the time to be coasting home on fumes. If a tornado damages your local power grid it could be days before pumps are operating again.
6. Have food and several heat sources on hand. Several years ago we were hit by a tropical storm that maintained its strength hundreds of miles inland. We lost power for four days. Peanut butter and jelly is good for the first day, but believe me, you will cherish a hot meal cooked on a grill or camp stove. You will also need to think about eating up refrigerated food early on before it spoils.
7. Have a family-wide disaster readiness plan in place. If storms are scheduled to hit during the day, chances are family members will be separated. Be sure everyone in your immediate family has a rendezvous point, and a secondary rendezvous point in case the first one is destroyed.