In the wake of the tornadoes that hit a large portion of the St. Louis area on Friday, April 22nd, many local hardware stores, such as Home Depot and True Value, sold out of certain emergency supplies in a matter of a few hours. With more severe weather in the KSDK and KMOV forecasts, this should be a wake up call to anyone who has not yet put together an emergency survival and repair kit.
Should St. Louisans experience another tornado, or even damaging straight line winds, lightning or heavy hail, there are several items that homeowners can keep on hand to aid in a crisis situation. To ensure the absolute best protection of yourself and your property, it’s necessary to envision yourself in the worst possible circumstances.
Obviously, if your home were completely demolished by a tornado, the only supplies that would be helpful at that point are the ones that provide you with a means of escape or survival. For instance, if you are trapped in your basement, it may still be possible to get a cell phone signal, so make sure your cell phone is in your pocket, fully charged. Furthermore, store hand cranked flashlights, bottled water and non perishable food items in the same area of your basement where you would take cover in a storm. Consider placing protein bars, crackers, beef jerky, nuts or dry cereal in a ziploc bag or other easy-to-open container. An injury such as a broken arm or hand, or even painful cuts could make it difficult to remove food items from their normal cardboard box or container with seal. Make sure extra doses of any necessary prescription medication is also stored with your food.
Store pillows and blankets and a first aid kit in the same location as well. You’ll not only need cushioning to cover you in the midst of the storm, but it may come in handy for warmth or comfort afterward. Your first aid kit should include an antiseptic, bandages, gauze, tweezers, small scissors, antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer and aspirin.
If you are able to escape, but your home sustains heavy damage, you’ll want to contain the problem as best you can. Having several tarps on hand can greatly reduce the water damage to your home’s contents or serve to patch a roof until an insurance claims adjuster can properly survey the damage. By the same token, keeping buckets on hand to collect water from a leaky roof can protect your flooring from rot and decay.
Tools such as saws, chainsaws, crowbars and shovels should be stored in the basement. Though it is common to store tools in the garage, the hollow structure of the garage makes it vulnerable to the storm. Should your garage cave in, you would still have access to the tools necessary to cut up fallen trees or lumber, help lift heavy items or clear debris.
Keep some form of hard hat with your tools. Even if all you own is a baseball or football helmet or bike helmet, it could become a valuable resource to protect yourself from falling objects during the storm clean up phase. Make sure that you also have work boots or an extra pair of shoes as well as heavy duty gloves.
No one wants to imagine their life in peril or their home in shambles, but by simply planning ahead and creating a storm zone in your basement, you are ensuring the best possible outcome in a situation where you otherwise may not have much control.
Furthermore, don’t wait until a tornado warning is upon St. Louis. Purchase items for your survival and repair kit and place them in one location in your basement while the weather is still stable. Then, take note of any severe weather forecasted by local meteorologists and if tornado sirens are sounded, don’t linger upstairs. As many reported after the April 22, 2011 tornadoes, the funnel was upon them, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Always know where your survival kit is located and take cover near it, immediately.
Now that you know what to do to prepare for a tornado, you might also want to educate yourself about earthquake preparedness. Check out, “New Madrid Fault Line: Emergency Preparedness for an earthquake in St. Louis” for more information.
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