Summers in the Midwest mean working in the yard, Fourth of July celebrations, cookouts, family time and fun. Unfortunately, in some areas, summer can also mean tornadoes, or at the very least, strong storms with winds that might damage your home enough to require board-up service. The best way to keep your family safe is to have a plan. So, now’s a great time to create a family tornado drill plan to ensure everyone knows exactly what to do if a tornado or other severe weather warning is issued. Here are some tips to get you started:
Know the difference between a watch and a warning
First of all, make sure everyone understands the difference between a “watch”, which means conditions are favorable for a strong storm, and a “warning”, which means a storm (or tornado) is imminent, and immediate shelter must be taken. Let everyone know that if they hear a storm siren or a warning from the media, that means a strong storm (or tornado) has been seen or spotted on radar, and they should implement what you’ve practiced in your drills. Here’s our article on what to do during a tornado.
Identify your tornado shelter area
Prior to holding your first drill, have a family meeting in which you identify your shelter area. If you have a basement, that’s your best choice for a shelter. If you don’t, identify an interior room or hallway without windows that will become your go-to area in the event of severe weather.
Equip your tornado shelter area
Your tornado emergency kit could include:
- Bottled Water
- Battery-powered weather radio
- Blankets and pillows
- Canned and non-perishable food and a can opener
- Pet food
- First aid kit
- Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
Once you’ve identified and equipped your tornado shelter area, it’s time to have a drill.
Here’s a Tornado Safety Drill Plan you can implement with your family right now.
- Make a list of responsibilities and actions. Every family member should know who and what they’re responsible for in the event of an emergency, whether it’s the family pet or another family member. Make sure each family member knows how to take cover once they get to the shelter area, instructing them to crouch down low and face down, covering their heads with their hands.
- Do a walk-through. Make sure the whole family understands that tornado drills are to be taken as seriously as an actual emergency, but reassure younger family members that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Review the list of responsibilities and practice them.
- Schedule the first drill. The first drill should be during the day, and you should give the kids a heads-up so they’re not frightened. You could maybe plan to do it after dinner and review the responsibilities list during dinner.
- Time the drill. Minutes matter! Time the first tornado drill and then decide how much faster you think the family can get. A tornado drill should last no more than 2-3 minutes. Share the goal with them and challenge them to find ways to improve the time.
- Mix it up. As the kids learn what to do, you can mix up the days and times to ensure they can adapt in various situations.
- Assess your drills. Have the whole family give suggestions for improving the drills. Share the progress you’ve made with improving drill times.
- Don’t get complacent. Kids learn what they practice. Doing a drill once or twice and then assuming everyone knows what to do won’t work. It’s essential to continue practicing your tornado safety drills on a regular basis to ensure your family is prepared, calm and safe if an actual emergency occurs.
Personal possessions can be restored or replaced. The only thing that matters when a severe storm or tornado strikes is getting everyone to safety. So start drilling today!
Get expert help
Should you experience storm damage and need the services of a property restoration company, the trusted restoration experts at Hays + Sons are just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With offices throughout the Midwest in Fort Wayne, Crown Point, Indianapolis, Columbus, Muncie and Lafayette as well as Cincinnati, Ohio, there’s a Hays + Sons near you.