This is a question I start asking myself at the beginning of every storm season. Having lived in Kansas my whole life, tornadoes and severe weather are the ‘norm’ for me, even though I am quite used to severe weather I still like to be as prepared as I can be in case the big one does decide to hit close, again.

            After watching my parents barely survive after their apartment complex was severely damaged from a category EF4 tornado. I have been pretty diligent in prepping for the worst. Their building was intact; it survived along with only one other building out of 10 buildings making up the complex. The complex itself sat over 2 blocks away from a main street. That street was completely blocked for at least 2 miles in both directions, due to the downed power lines and other debris. They may have survived the initial blast from the tornado with no injuries, but what almost killed them was lack of proper supplies, while being without power for 2 weeks until they were rescued. They barely had enough food and water. They wouldn’t have made it much longer.

            It is pretty easy to prepare a safe area in your home and have supplies readily available. I probably go a little overboard since I have a whole room as a safe area in my basement. If you do not have a basement, the most centered room in your house, preferably a bathroom or a larger closet.

            I already keep an extra pantry in my safe room as I call it. I always make sure it is overstocked with non perishable food items, enough to last at least 2 weeks for my family of 5. I also keep an extra can opener and eating utensils in the pantry. I am thinking about adding a camping stove to heat food on, but it is not a necessity. Most things that are canned do not need to be reheated. I have jugs of water and packs of bottled water stored along with the food.

            I have a 5 gallon bucket that is filled with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, feminine products, along with a Ziploc bag with toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap.

            I keep storage tubs with blankets, pillows, clothes, sneakers for all members of my family, and a standard first aid kit. I store flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and lighters in the basement and in 3 closets upstairs, as the power does tend to go out quite a bit during the season without having to take cover from a tornado. My step-daughter’s bedroom is in the basement, we bring her queen-sized mattress into the safe room to cover from debris. We also use the gymnastic mats we have. These were not purchased for storm protection, but they do come in handy.

            Normally we have a time frame of when bad storms can potentially start firing up, so I will start making sure all of our cell phones, laptops, and portable DVD players are charged up. The kids also have a small tub of toys for their own entertainment, so they aren’t as scared as well as DVDs to watch. It is much easier to ride out a storm with calm children, than panic stricken ones. I also make sure to unhook my external hard drive that I have for my main PC and laptop and put it in my purse before we have to head down.

            As for our pets, we prepare for them too. I really can’t do much for my fish tank, so I don’t really bother with them, I will try and remember to turn their light off but that is about it. As far as my dog and cat, their food is stored in the basement in the safe room anyway. The kids grab their food and water dishes. I grab the dog and put his kennel down with us. He prefers to stay with the kids and snuggle with them, it also helps keep him clam. He is small so if we all need to huddle together he fits right in.

            Having all of these things already in place when the threat of tornadoes is upon us makes the transition to taking cover much easier, especially having young children. I don’t have to worry about things I have forgotten, because there isn’t anything it is all prepped. All I have to do is grab my kids, my animals and my purse and we are ready to go. We can easily grab the mattress for protection, light a couple of candles, and get the weather report going on the laptop. We had our first tornado of the season yesterday and we had to take cover for about 30 minutes, luckily it wasn’t on the ground for very long and missed us entirely. I timed our trek to take cover and from the time we decided to go downstairs it only took us one minute and about 45 seconds to get 2 adults, one teenager, a 9 year old, a 5 year old, a cat and a dog down in the basement safely without having to panic. We generally get about a 15 minute warning so knowing that I can get my family down to safety and get everything set up and ready with quite enough time left to spare makes me handle the bad weather a lot easier as well. I hope this helps you be better prepared for severe weather. 

American Red Cross Disaster & Emergency Kit by First Aid Only
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