Today’s To-Do’s to Prep for Monday’s Outbreak

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By Scott Roberts

☑ Preparation Beats Hype

In Tornado Alley, we are used to the pre-event hype that often precedes outbreak days. Given that we’ve been quite some time without a true outbreak day in Kansas (April 14, 2012), it’s easy to become complacent. Anecdote: I posted on my socials last night looking for school district dismissal & safe room information from across the state, and one person replied, “I am NOT preparing for a 30% probability.” Of course, that’s his choice. But the thing to be aware of is, yesterday’s percentage in the outlook is the highest SPC is allowed to go with risk percentages four days ahead. Today it has gone up another notch. Although the red area is known as the 30% area, you can see from the legend on the outlooks above it really means 30 to 45% — nearing a 1-in-3 change to a 1-in-2 chance of severe weather within 25 miles of that man’s home or work….or yours…or mine.

That said, it’s no reason to become fearful! Preparation is the key to success, and you have two days — plenty of time — to prepare. If you’ve been following our site and advice over the years, you probably have very little preparation to do! If not, there’s still plenty of time.

☑ Have multiple ways to get warnings

  • Cell phone apps: if you don’t have a weather app on your phone, the ones from the TV stations do a good job. You can also look for app such as the Red Cross “Tornado” app. I use this on my Android device:
  • Weather Alert Radio: You can get these for $30-ish at most large stores.

☑ Gather your important documents

  • Photo ID for everyone in the house. Driver’s license, state ID, school ID. Don’t forget to take a photo of you and your pet together. If you have passports, put them with other important documents so they aren’t lost.
  • Homeowners/Renters/Auto Insurance app or paperwork. Have policy numbers and claim filing numbers.
  • Home ownership documents: These are often available online, but having a paper copy may help in post-disaster assistance filing, etc.
  • Pet shot records and microchip numbers as well as your veterinarian’s name and contact info.


The key is: documents that prove who you are, what you own, and that connect your pets to you. If you have to go to shelter, these should be in a large ziplock bag or something else that will protect from water — and if you have to go to a public shelter afterward you’ll need this data not only to get in, but to return to your home if it’s in a damaged area (IDs are needed to help prevent looting in damage zones).

☑ Family Contacts, Emergency Contact

  • Designate an out-of-area contact person (given the size of the risk area, it may need to be an out-of-state contact person). This is the one person you will notify if you are in a disaster, that you are okay. Family members should call that person to check on you — so that means you need to tell them who it is!!
  • Know where each person in your local family will be throughout the day Monday — that means knowing work schedules for adult children, event schedules for grandkids, etc.

☑ Schools, Daycares

  • Trust that school officials and daycare providers have taken measures to protect children. If a tornado warning is issued, one of the LEAST-SAFE things you can do is make a mad dash to the school to bring your child home. In 2013, while a tornado was bearing down on an elementary school, we watched at least a dozen parents careen through the neighborhood to try to get to the school and pick up kids.

    This is important enough I’ll be doing a separate post on school tornado preparations and release policies on Monday. Please, please, please — if you simply must have your child at home with you in a tornado warning, go get them when the WATCH is issued. But if you can’t shelter underground (in a basement) most of the time your child is safer at school than home.

☑ Outdoor Events

  • If yours is an active after-school or evening event family, have a talk with everyone this weekend. Discuss what you will do if a tornado watch is in place for your community and it looks like storms may come your way during the event. It’s much better to not attend the event than to be in a rush of people tyring to get away when organizers stop the event and send everyone home.
  • Beyond that, trust event organizers to cancel or suspend events in case of a weather threat.

☑ Get Some Cash, Check Medicines

  • Power or Internat may be down after a storm hits. ATMs and cash registers don’t work without power and Internet. Keep some cash on hand just in case.
  • Be sure you have 7 days or so of medication left in your prescription bottles, get refills if needed, and gather your medicines in their original bottles into a grocery sack so you can grab them if you go to shelter. Storms may fire during the workday — if you have critical medications you may want to carry them in a purse or pouch to guarantee you have them on you.
  • Pet Meds: do you have enough for several days if your pet has anxiety issues?

☑ Monday Awareness and Prep Activities

  • Awareness is the Key. Know the location of the shelter wherever you are. If you don’t see a sign, ASK someone where the shelter is.
  • Keep an eye on the sky especially to the west and southwest
  • Supposed to go somewhere and it’s storming? Delay the trip until the storm passes.
  • Important records should be with a responsible person whether they are at home or away. If your home gets hit and you’re at work, your carefully gathered papers won’t help!
  • Consider putting pets in carriers/crates if you will be away from home, or perhaps even if you are at home. Even if it stresses the animal, that may be better than having to dig them out from under the bed when you have to shelter quickly…and a hard carrier will provide a degree of protection if you aren’t home.

And finally…don’t give in to the hype!

Yes, I realize I’m playing into the hype here. I think it’s important to be prepared…and frankly most of us are probably ready for Monday. But there are some things that bear repeating, both for people new to the area and for those of us who are old hands at this, because we don’t retain skills we don’t practice for a decade!

In an article written seven years ago, Mark Bogner took over-reaction to task: When a City Loses it’s Ever-Lovin’ Mind and the advice/commentary is as true today. We’re Kansans, we’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. And if one of our towns takes a hit…we’ll be right there helping out.

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