Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Tornado Drill

My husband and I grew up in California and remember several big earthquakes.  Two years ago we moved to Missouri, smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley.  In all of our years (even for the Y2K scare) we have never assembled a disaster survival kit.  That changed a few weeks back when Joplin was hit with a tornado.  I helped our oldest daughter pull up FEMA's website where we found a list of supplies to get us started.  She read the list to my husband.  He then told our other girls where to find the items and they got everything for our box.  If we didn't have something, I wrote it on a shopping list.  After putting our box together, we chose to place it at the back of our daughters' closet under the stairs.  As we placed it there, we prayed that we would never need it.

A week later, my girls and I were sitting at the table doing school work like any other day as the tornado siren began to sound.  I knew we would be fine because we just went over this with the kids AND we had all of our supplies in the closet.  The older girls and I quickly gathered school work, cell phones, chargers, my purse, food, shoes and jackets as we ran downstairs.  We scrambled to get the pets and my youngest daughter down with us.  On the way down, I called my husband and mom to tell them where we were.  Once we got down there and took a few moments to calm everyone, I called our property manager.  She urged us to come to the community storm shelter where our neighbors were gathering.  Once again, we gathered our belongings, put the pets in the basement bathroom, and left our house on foot.  On the short walk, I called my husband and told him we were going elsewhere.  My youngest daughter began panicking and I carried her the rest of the way with my other two running ahead of us.

We spent about an hour in the shelter with twenty other people and dogs before heading back home.  In that hour my daughter was able to calm down and I was able to think though all that happened.  Fortunately, the only thing that ever came our way that day was a good practice run.  Here are SOME lessons we learned (or were reminded of):
  • No matter how you feel underneath, stay calm so you can help the kids stay calm.
  • Do a family drill, even if it feels cheesy.  This is the only way to work the bugs out.
  • Pack some plastic bags in case someone's stomach isn't calm.
  • Put your emergency kit somewhere that you can take it with you if needed.  We repacked ours into three backpacks rather than one container.  This way three family members could each grab a bag.  Our kit did nothing for us when we were in the shelter and not one person there had any supplies.  It had the potential to get ugly in there.
  • Pack some fun stuff in the kit to help distract the kids.
  • If possible, have a small supply of prescriptions in the kit.
  • Call someone and tell them your plan as soon as you know something is going on.  We lost cell phone service during the storm and didn't get service back until eight hours after it was over.
  • As soon as you return to normal (or as soon as possible) call that person back and tell them you are OK.  For good measure, call anyone else who may be concerned.  I called my grandpa who would have panicked when he saw the news that evening because several tornadoes did touch down near our town.

These are a few things that come to mind.  Please share any other suggestions with me!

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