As Mark lamented here, the tendency lately has been to way over-hype upcoming storm risks. Hey, we fell into the overestimation trap on that first big storm day, too!
Right now it looks like tomorrow will bring some strong, long-track tornadoes to parts of Kansas — mostly the western 1/2 to 2/3 of the state. The main storm system is slowing down some, which increases the risk that some of these tornadoes will occur at night. On the plus side, strong, long track tornadoes don’t just appear. In any one location, if a tornado like this is approaching, you are going to know about it some time in advance. That is, if you are paying attention and keeping up on the warnings to your west and southwest.
I’m going to keep this list simple — the top five things you can do in the next 24 hours to improve your safety, preparedness, and your resilience should the worst happen. For event planners, I think there are three main suggestions.
Individuals & Families
Step 1: Getting the Warning – Choose more than one
- Weather Radio. If you don’t have one, this one from WalMart or this one from Walgreens will do nicely.
- Smartphone App. I recommend the Red Cross’ Tornado app (iPhone) (Android).
I also use Weather Alert (Android only – Free | Pro Version, $1.99), which has been consistently delivering watches and warnings minutes ahead of the Tornado app for most of the season.
- Radio/TV. Each of us is partial to one or more sources for this…I would recommend trusting the local sources above the national/cable sources.
Step 2: Prepare Essentials
- Cash. ATMs are frequently down in storm-damaged areas and stores that have power may not be able to run their card processing.
- Medicines. Get refills Sat. morning for any nearing the refill date.
- Water. The recommendation is a gallon of water per person per day. It may be easier if you buy a case of bottled water and keep it in the car.
- ID. Be sure each family member, especially those who will be away from home, have their photo ID with address on it. In the event of a disaster, that will be the only thing that will get you back into your neighborhood/town/home.
- Pets. This video, produced in conjunction with Butler County Animal Rescue Team, explains what you need.
Step 3: Verify Plans and an out-of-town contact.
- Know where everyone who lives in your home will be between noon Saturday and sunrise Sunday.
- If you can, designate a family member’s home on the other side of town as your meeting place post-storm.
- Who is your out of town contact? This person needs to know the plans for your entire family. If your town or neighborhood is hit, you call this person to let them know your status (whether you’re ok). Tell your extended family who this is and ask them to call the out of town contact, not you, if your town is hit.
Tell your family and friends now on Twitter
Step 4: Be weather-aware as you go about your plans for the day
- As you enter a business, store, mall, school or other venue, figure out where the shelter is. Ask yourself, “if a tornado was bearing down on me right now, what would I do?” If you don’t know where the shelter is, ASK.
- Keep your weather alert radio/smart phone app with you.
- Pay attention to the weather as it develops, especially to your west and southwest.
Step 5: Basic Tornado Safety – DUCK
- Down to the lowest level
- Under something sturdy
- Cover your head
- Keep in Shelter
Above all, don’t panic! Have a plan, work the plan.
3 Suggestions for Event Planners
Keep your options open
By far the most of us will not experience weather that will disrupt event plans, especially for indoor events. If you have an option to get the people at your event in adequate shelter, you’re golden.
Multiple, Overlapping Warning Sources
See the list above in step one. Use as many of them as you can, and if you have a volunteer who can monitor radar trends on a phone, pad or laptop, enlist their help.
For large events, include sheltering instructions as part of the opening remarks/comments for the event.
Being prepared for whatever happens tomorrow is a matter of taking just a few steps and remaining calm in the face of a stressful situation.