By Beth Pike, OSU Extension Office
When the storm sirens are sounding, there are just a few precious moments available to get your family to safety. This is not the time to be looking for car keys, locating important papers or gathering up emergency supplies.
“When those sirens go off, time is limited. The people of Joplin, Missouri, had about a 20-minute notice before a twister wiped out a big chunk of their city,” says Gina Peek. “Don’t waste that time looking for things. It’s a much better idea to be prepared ahead of time.”
It is vital for families to have an emergency plan. Make certain all members of the family and their individual needs are taken into account when planning, especially vulnerable children and elders. Be sure to communicate your emergency plan with all members of your family.
For those who have a storm shelter at their home, register it with the city or county. If there is a weather event, officials will have a list of all registered shelters and will know where to find you.
“You also may want to contact key family members before the storm hits to let them know where you are,” Peek said. “If you are taking refuge in a neighbor’s shelter, a public shelter or a designated safe building in your community, make sure family members who are not in the path of the storm know where you’re going.”
Peek said it is a good idea to store your insurance agent’s telephone number in your cell phone in the event your home or cars sustain damage.
“You also should keep copies of important papers such as birth certificates, home deeds or other documentation in a location where you can grab them on the way to the shelter,” she said. “These papers will come in handy following the storm. Be sure to take your wallet or purse containing identification to the shelter. Also, make sure everyone is wearing shoes. You can’t walk barefoot through broken glass and debris.”
Although in most cases people do have ample warning of impending weather, it is always a good idea to be prepared ahead of time.
When the sirens are sounding is not the time to be looking for keys, gathering emergency supplies, looking for your shoes or trying to figure out where you should go. Being prepared ahead of time can help you and your family members stay calm in an already hectic situation.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.