Our kids have been raised knowing what to do if there’s a tornado warning during school hours, and we should be just as prepared at home, regardless of whether we have kids. Setting up a safe spot for tornado season isn’t too difficult, and it’s important to take the time to do it in advance so you don’t have to scramble during that inevitable 2:30 a.m. warning.
Choosing a Safe Spot
The experts will tell you the rules for tornado safety can be summarized by the acronym DUCK:
- Down to the lowest level of the house
- Under something sturdy
- Cover your head
- Keep in the shelter until the storm passes
At home or in a small building, that means the basement if you have one, or the lowest floor. Choose a room without windows or a closet if possible. Somewhere with a door is best, but an interior hallway can work, too, if that’s all you have.
If you live in an apartment on an upper floor, make friends with a downstairs neighbor or find a safe place on the lowest floor you can get to quickly if a storm is coming.
And if you live in a mobile home, the safest course is to evacuate to another structure or designated tornado shelter when there’s a threat of severe weather.
How to Equip Your Tornado Shelter
Our tornado safe spot is the coat closet/wiring closet, which happens to be under the stairs. It’s the most central and solid structure in the house, and the only place without windows.
It’s safe, but it’s not very comfortable. That’s why I try to outfit it each tornado season with some things that will make it more comfortable and comforting for my six-year-old, though she actually thinks it’s kind of fun to hang out in the closet.
Here are some of the things we keep handy for our tornado shelter:
- Battery-operated lanterns or flashlights
- A stuffed animal or two for comfort
- A few books for distraction
- Shelf-stable snacks for daytime storms
- Weather radio, iPad or phone with streaming capabilities for keeping up with the storm (or turn the TV up really loud so you can hear it in your shelter)
If you have kids, it’s a great idea to bring in their bicycle or football helmets to wear in case of tornado or wind damage. If you know there’s a tornado threat, grab them and stick them in your safe spot ahead of the storm.
You might also want to keep an easy-on pair of shoes for each family member in the safe spot because storms often come up at night and if you have to walk through debris, you’ll want to have shoes.
Bonus Points for Extra Preparation
If you want to be super-prepared in case your home is actually hit by a tornado, you should keep originals or copies of important documents in your safe spot as well.
This would include things like birth certificates and social security cards for everyone in the family, credit card numbers if you don’t bring your wallet with you into your shelter, insurance information for family members and your home, bank account information, etc. Anything you wouldn’t want to lose access to in case of a disaster.
If you store all this stuff in a fireproof box, you can just move that to your safe spot for tornado season. We hate to think that the worst is going to happen, but if it does, you’ll be prepared.
What do you keep in your tornado safe spot? Where is it?