How to Prepare for a Severe Weather Outbreak

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By Scott Roberts

This excerpt is from a post I made the morning of the April 14, 2012 tornado outbreak. The things I list are actions I highly recommend you take in advance of this week’s storm system.

These are the things I’m doing to pre­pare for the storms. They are dif­fer­ent than yours may be, as I will be out in the storms and may be called to help in any response to a storm-impacted com­mu­nity I’m close to. I’ve high­lighted the things I think are impor­tant for any­one to do before Sunday.

  • In my van, I have an emer­gency kit that includes sev­eral road flares, a first aid kit, a box of nitrile gloves (a lighter ver­sion of what EMS work­ers use) and heav­ier gloves for each per­son that will be with me. I have also put a crow­bar in the van in case of the need to break some­thing to res­cue a per­son, and I have a million-candlepower spot­light to help with night activities.
  • I have gath­ered all my vital doc­u­ments (home insur­ance paper­work, ID for all fam­ily mem­bers, pass­ports, immu­niza­tion records for the kids, and other things needed to estab­lish who I am and what I own if the worst hap­pens. I take this set of fold­ers with me on a day like today. You should have it within arms reach to take with you to shelter.
  • After fin­ish­ing this post, I will do a walk-around of my home with a video cam­era, to record the con­tents of the house and garage. It’s the quick­est way I know to have an up-to-date inven­tory of what’s in the house in case of an insur­ance claim.
  • Our fam­ily will be in four loca­tions tonight…one of us is quite a dis­tance away from here. That per­son (Roxan) is the des­ig­nated con­tact point for the oth­ers in the fam­ily if some­thing hap­pens. We, and our extended fam­ily mem­bers, will call her to check on us. She knows the exact loca­tions of each of the rest of us through­out the day today. Please, take time now to set up a con­tact point out­side the area that every­one in your fam­ily can call to ver­ify you’re okay. Remem­ber, in a major  dis­as­ter, the phone ser­vice is likely to be lost. If you can get a mes­sage out, that’s a sin­gle call or text. Your extended fam­ily can con­tact your point per­son, rather than try­ing to call into the dis­as­ter area and get hold of you.
  • Cash and gaso­line are good things to have stocked up.
  • Remem­ber to pre­pare a dis­as­ter kit if you haven’t. See instructions at


The new Red Cross Tornado app, which  I discuss here, includes an easy way to notify your designated person that you’re okay.

Please check out all our safety posts for more preparation information, and in case the worst happens, you may want to prepare yourself mentally by re-reading my post concerning the lessons I learned in CERT class. You may be surprised at the initial priorities of rescuers.

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