Rewind about 15 years….It was summertime and I was home alone on the farm. I’m not sure where the rest of my family was, but I was busy doing my chores: mowing the lawn, weed whacking, killing snakes… you know, the usual chores for a farm girl. I noticed the sky getting very dark so I went inside to check the Weather Channel (which didn’t show rain within 50 miles of the farm!).
As I was heading back outside, our phone rang. A family friend was calling to see if I was home alone. I told her yes, and she proceeded to tell me a tornado was reported 6 ½ miles west of town (our farm is 7 ½ miles west of town).
She said, “I don’t want you home alone. Get in the pickup and drive to your neighbor’s house.”
I asked, “Since the tornado is so close, shouldn’t I just stay home and go to the basement?”
She was adamant I go to the neighbor’s house so I was safe.
Well – she was the adult and I was the kid – so I listened to her and proceeded to drive a half mile TOWARD the tornado to get to my neighbor’s house. I won’t go through the hilarious details of a nervous teenage girl trying to drive a stick shift while in a panic. Let’s just say I narrowly avoided putting some new dents in my dad’s shop. We’ll leave it at that.
In the end, I arrived safely at our neighbor’s house. I don’t remember if the tornado caused any damage, but I do remember how scared I was and being very uneasy about driving during the storm. The typical protocol for our family was to go to the basement during storms. But I had never been home alone during a storm, so I wasn’t 100% confident I should ignore the advice from the adult on the other end of the phone.
Life Lesson: Create a plan for severe weather and make sure the whole family understands what to do.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but so many of us just don’t take the time. As severe weather season quickly approaches, now is a good time to make a plan and get prepared.
Here’s some suggestions and resources to help you get started:
- Create a family emergency plan.
- Be prepared for a tornado and have a shelter plan.
- Communicate with your neighbors and other family members about your emergency plan and share your resources. Hiring a babysitter? Make sure they are aware of your emergency plan as well.
- Keep fully stocked first aid kits in your home and vehicles, as well as a portable weather radio from the National Weather Service.
- Register for alerts and warnings so you are aware of changing weather conditions.
For more safety tips and emergency preparedness resources, I’d recommend checking out Ready.gov, FEMA’s “America’s PrepareAthon!” campaign and the National Safety Council’s Emergency Preparedness page.
Like this post? Go to our Area Voices dashboard to subscribe to our blog!