Why does it take either a natural disaster or a man-made disaster to refresh my mind on how lax we are in taking steps on a daily basis to protect our families and our every day existence of our communities? With the recent earthquake in Haiti once again I am reminded how very important it is to have emergency plans in place to care for your family and neighbors as well as your community in general. I feel that everyone needs to try and take responsibility for themselves and not expect any type of government assistance to be coming to your aid. As we have seen in past catastrophes, it can be days and weeks before assistance arrives, so it is necessary that you are able to care for yourself.
With tornado season right around the corner here in Oklahoma, NOW is the time to get our emergency plans in order. We have been fortunate, our city has been spared for all the years that I have lived here. We’ve had them nearby and zooming up in the sky over our heads but not touching down in our city….. knock on wood! Over the years we’ve gone to the shelter, waited out the warnings and in some cases been without electricity for several hours but we’ve not had the destruction that devastated a great portion of many cities in Oklahoma with the F-5 tornado that touched down May 30, 1999.
Get your shelter in order.
I personally have an underground shelter. This is the one thing when I purchased my home that HAD to be on my list of amenities as a MUST HAVE.
With the frequency and severity of the tornadoes that come through Oklahoma, I would suggest that if you do not have a shelter or an above ground safe room, that you look into putting one in place right away. If you just can’t afford one, clean out a closet in the center of the house where you can take shelter. If you have too many people in your family to all squeeze into a central closet, go to a central hallway, away from windows and be sure to have plenty of blankets and pillows near by that you can use to cover yourself with. Another good item to have handy are helmets, like bike or sports helmets for your children especially.
Put Important Papers Together
I have a plastic tote in which I have copies of my insurance policies for my home and my automobile, along with my car title, my birth certificate, a copy of my last will and testament, medical directive and a camera. When I know that we are into bad weather warnings, I immediately take this tote down into the shelter. Otherwise, everything is already all together incase someone needs these documents.
Setting up your supplies
Down in my shelter, I have a small plastic rolling cart in which I can keep canned goods, a can opener, matches, candles and hygiene products along with pet food for my critters. In a large plastic trash barrel are sheets, pillows and extra clothing. I even have some basic medical supplies stashed away in the trash can. On the table are the radios, lamps and flashlights.
Presently there are plastic chairs and a table down there, along with a weather radio and a regular radio. I used to have a little portable TV down there which is no longer useable thanks to the new digital TV receiving. There is electricity down there, but if we were to lose electrical power, I would be able to rely on both flashlights as well as oil burning lamps.
Keep your purse nearby
I keep my purse close by during tornado season. That contains all my current necessary items such as car and house keys, debit cards and driver’s license. If I took medications, I would be slipping those into my purse also so they would be ready to go to the shelter with me.
I have three cats and a parrot whose safety I am responsible for. When I know that we have bad weather in the area, they all go into their carrying cages. The cats have individual carriers, for the simple fact that I don’t want them fighting with one another if they get frightened. They go down into the shelter early. Luckily they seem to know the drill, having been through this over the years. A couple of them will actually go lay inside their carriers when I bring them into the house, as if to say “okay, I’m ready when you are!” Now the parrot is a different story, he doesn’t like his small cage and I do need to look at getting him a larger one this year.
This year, I want to do some major renovations down in my shelter. Instead of plastic chairs to sit on, I want to build benches with storage underneath the padded seats. In this way, bedding and clothing items could be stored under the benches. With them being padded, one could actually sleep on them if necessary.
The entire area under the stairwell, I would like to build in shelf units for storing food and other supplies. That way I would have more on hand for a longer period of time or at least would be able to share with and assist more people if need be.
One thing that my family needs to do is agree upon a way to contact each other and meet up with one another if we are unable to communicate by phone. We also need to advise other family members who live in near by states of what our emergency plans are and how to go about locating us if something happened.
When there is widespread devastation such as happened with the F-5 tornado, Hurricane’s Katrina and Ike, the Tsunami in Sri Lanka, and earthquakes such as in Mexico and most recently now in Haiti, it becomes apparent that individuals need to prepare for their own safety and well being. It can take time for the government or other countries to bring aid to you. It is imperative that you have shelter, clean water, food and clothing. Some basic medical supplies as well as tools would also be helpful to have.
I would like to know how you have made preparations to protect your family?