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Komnena
02-15-2008, 04:33 PM
I'm starting this thread because after Tuesday I'd like to exchange knowledge and ideas about how to prepare for bad weather. What I learned from the Tuesday tornadoes was how little prepared emotionally I was. Nobody warned me that at the height of the storm I would experience a nearly overpowering urge to run outside and crawl under the deck. I also failed to have enough flashlights on hand. I've since bought four and am planning to buy others, so that there is one for each room of the house.
In regard to the snowstorms more typical of February, I learned we definitely needed more de-icer, that situation also remedied.

nerds
02-15-2008, 05:14 PM
Well, in TN I was as prepared as it's possible to be, but the area where I was has zero basements. There's no place to go, and in the end no amount of flashlight batteries will matter a damn if your home is ripped off its moorings in a tornado.

Other than this past year and a half in TN I've lived my whole life in New England, and you get pretty good at preparing for things during the winter - lengthy power outages, cold and so forth - I think all the same basic rules apply anywhere. Plus after 9/11 people here got super-aware and better at being ready for anything.

Always have one vehicle's gas tank full and keep that vehicle in good running order. Batteries, flashlights, an alternate source of heat where applicable i.e. a safe kerosene space heater. Jugs of water. Fill a clean bathtub with water, too. Keep dry and canned goods on hand, foods you can survive on which don't have to be cooked. A manual can opener. You can live on cold Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli pretty well in an emergency.

In cold areas where people have wood-burning or pellet-burning stoves, make sure there's enough fuel on hand, and cooking can be done on those or in the fireplace. (I've done that many times during big snowstorms.)

Keep a first-aid kit handy and fully stocked. Create one space, one cabinet or closet, where all emergency stuff is stored so you're not frantically scrambling for things. Keep flashlights, batteries, kitchen matches, first-aid kit, a few basic tools, all your stuff in that one space.

Up here I keep blankets, big flashlight, batteries, wool socks, a small case of granola bars, Gatorade, a tool kit, first-aid kit and a separate set of weather-proof outerwear in whatever vehicle I'm driving. I always, always carry a multi-tool Swiss Army knife in my pocket - Jason can attest to that, I used it at one point on our trip. You can't believe how often I use that knife for something, at least once a day probably. In emergencies they're invaluable.

I'm sure others will offer more, I'm not awake yet and probably forgetting a few things.


adding - cash. Keep some emergency cash around. ATMs fail when power is out, as do all things connected with plastic cards. After Katrina people saw how vital that easily-overlooked detail can be.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-15-2008, 06:06 PM
I'm the Queen of tornado preparedness here in Oklahoma. We've got a safe room in the garage (thank you, Ol' Boy) big enough for us and our three cats in their comfortable, private carriers. In it there're enough supplies for at least three days without access to the outside world:

money (in small denominations! and include some coins)
food (freeze dried, MREs, canned, etc., rotated by date so it doesn't get old)
water (and stuff to purify water if you run out)
fuel for a propane hot plate
hot plate
tv with UPS
lanterns
lots and lots of batteries
waterproof matches
radio (both hand-cranked and battery-powered), both with weather band/alert
change of clothes
blankets
rain ponchos
plastic sheeting/tarp
tools (hammer, plyers, screwdrivers, wrenches for shutting off gas/water)
Nails, screws, rope
work gloves
candles
First Aid kit and instructions - PLUS any prescription meds
Safety glasses
Dust masks
Port-a-Potty and supplies
toiletries
TV tray and seats
Kitty food
Kitty potty
hard-wired telephone
whistle, signal flag
can opener
bottle opener
pocket knife
scissors
compass
copies of important papers (insurance, etc. - including an inventory of your home)
fire extinguisher
books and games
plastic bins to keep all this stuff packed neatly

Gosh... I know I've forgotten SOMEthing...

Oh... and if you have babies/children, you've got to have them covered, too, of course. I just don't have a clue what that would include. :)

ETA: A generator is very nice, too... but we keep it just outside the garage door (and hope it doesn't get blown away in the event of a really nasty tornado)

stormie
02-15-2008, 06:26 PM
Here's one I don't think anyone mentioned: down comforters or coats. In the colder climates during a power outage and if you don't have a generator, down comforters or coats retain your body heat. Hats and warm gloves, too. (It can get really cold in the house, esp. at night.) We purchased the down comforters on sale.

KTC
02-15-2008, 06:35 PM
Also...Keep these things in your trunk during the winter.

-Extra blankets
-flare
-Emergency sign
-snow shovel
-extra coat
-extra gloves/mittens
-extra hat/balaclava
-salt

If you're stuck in a snowstorm you might not be prepared to walk in it. I often wear a light jacket, even in the worst weather...so I keep my dog-walking one in the trunk. It'll keep me warm in the arctic. Exposed skin is dead skin.

Maryn
02-15-2008, 08:43 PM
Kevin, our daughter got her first car only about a year ago, and she laughed when I gave her a truly ugly heavy coat I got at Goodwill, a heavy knit hat, some old gloves, plus her own old combat boots. "For your trunk, just in case," I said.

Yeah, funny until the night she went out in no jacket because there's not really any place to stow it at the club she was going to, and she can park quite near and just dash in. Naturally, her car stalled on her way home and wouldn't start again. She determined she was only a mile or so away, and used everything in the bag when she walked home. She called the next day. "You forgot socks."

Maryn, who never gets everything right

KTC
02-15-2008, 08:48 PM
Kevin, our daughter got her first car only about a year ago, and she laughed when I gave her a truly ugly heavy coat I got at Goodwill, a heavy knit hat, some old gloves, plus her own old combat boots. "For your trunk, just in case," I said.

Yeah, funny until the night she went out in no jacket because there's not really any place to stow it at the club she was going to, and she can park quite near and just dash in. Naturally, her car stalled on her way home and wouldn't start again. She determined she was only a mile or so away, and used everything in the bag when she walked home. She called the next day. "You forgot socks."

Maryn, who never gets everything right


lol!


Kevin, adding socks to his trunk.

Gravity
02-15-2008, 09:09 PM
1. Slim Jims

2. Pork rinds

3. Beer

These three, and you can laugh at Mother Nature.

paprikapink
02-15-2008, 09:29 PM
So that answers my daughter's question when I told her about last month's devastating tornadoes: Why didn't people go into their storm cellars?

So there're really homes with no cellars or basements, uh? I'll bet that there's a "seemed reasonable at the time" explanation for how that came to be normal in tornado country. Anyone know what it is?

(Of course, I grew up in earthquake country, where, if you ask me, there shouldn't even be buildings...!

Maryn
02-15-2008, 09:52 PM
I imagine basement construction costs a lot more than pouring a concrete slab. I bet it's as simple as money.

There are other issues in some places. In southern Arizona, there's a layer of caliche (if that's how you spell it) which sometimes requires blasting to break through. Here in western New York, the water table can interfere, big-time, although most homes have basements nevertheless. Sopping basements, flooded basements, but still, basements.

Maryn, whose basement flooded a few months ago

johnnysannie
02-15-2008, 09:57 PM
I'm the Queen of tornado preparedness here in Oklahoma. We've got a safe room in the garage (thank you, Ol' Boy) big enough for us and our three cats in their comfortable, private carriers. In it there're enough supplies for at least three days without access to the outside world:

money (in small denominations! and include some coins)
food (freeze dried, MREs, canned, etc., rotated by date so it doesn't get old)
water (and stuff to purify water if you run out)
fuel for a propane hot plate
hot plate
tv with UPS
lanterns
lots and lots of batteries
waterproof matches
radio (both hand-cranked and battery-powered), both with weather band/alert
change of clothes
blankets
rain ponchos
plastic sheeting/tarp
tools (hammer, plyers, screwdrivers, wrenches for shutting off gas/water)
Nails, screws, rope
work gloves
candles
First Aid kit and instructions - PLUS any prescription meds
Safety glasses
Dust masks
Port-a-Potty and supplies
toiletries
TV tray and seats
Kitty food
Kitty potty
hard-wired telephone
whistle, signal flag
can opener
bottle opener
pocket knife
scissors
compass
copies of important papers (insurance, etc. - including an inventory of your home)
fire extinguisher
books and games
plastic bins to keep all this stuff packed neatly

Gosh... I know I've forgotten SOMEthing...

Oh... and if you have babies/children, you've got to have them covered, too, of course. I just don't have a clue what that would include. :)

ETA: A generator is very nice, too... but we keep it just outside the garage door (and hope it doesn't get blown away in the event of a really nasty tornado)


Excellent post and list. I was going to post my list but well, Old Fashioned Girl, did it first and did it better.

If you don't have a safe room, prepare an area of your basement. If you don't have a basement, then plan ahead and know where you would seek shelter if or when a severe weather event happens. I know some experts say to get into a bathtub or interior closet but I personally would not - I've seen too many homes ripped to the foundation that I would not feel safe with that as a refuge.

I live in the far southwest corner of Missouri where we also get a lot of tornadoes and I've been in several, lost home and everything to one as a teen.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-15-2008, 10:15 PM
I know some experts say to get into a bathtub or interior closet but I personally would not - I've seen too many homes ripped to the foundation that I would not feel safe with that as a refuge.

I'm with you on this... except in cases where there's nothing better. Folks would be safe with the smaller tornadoes... and for the F4s and F5s, nothing but being in a safe room or cellar is going to be effective. Fortunately the F4s and F5s are relatively rare, so a closet/bath tub would work.

One safety tip: if your tub is enclosed in glass shower doors... not a good place. In the October 1998 outbreak, Ol' Boy and I and two schnauzers were huddled in the floor of the bathroom, bolstered by pillows and heavy quilts... and I looked up at the glass doors and thought, "Dummy!"

Cranky
02-15-2008, 10:22 PM
Another thing I picked up from living in hurricane areas: Keep copies of your birth certs, ID, insurance paperwork, driver's license, etc. in a waterproof container. You might have to be able to prove you live in the area if you need to get back in to retrieve whatever belongings you have left. I kept mine in two zip lock bags (would've used small Space Bags and vacuumed out the air, too, if I'd thought of it) and would have thrown that in my purse, or whatever.

Same goes for photographs, and of course, being writers, any WIP's,etc. Backups of backups.

nerds
02-16-2008, 03:54 AM
So that answers my daughter's question when I told her about last month's devastating tornadoes: Why didn't people go into their storm cellars?

So there're really homes with no cellars or basements, uh? I'll bet that there's a "seemed reasonable at the time" explanation for how that came to be normal in tornado country. Anyone know what it is?

(Of course, I grew up in earthquake country, where, if you ask me, there shouldn't even be buildings...!


I can only speak to the specific area I was in, western Tennessee near the Mississippi River. Arkansas and Missouri are on the other side of the river, and that's where these storms usually begin to brew then head eastward. To the north is the Kentucky line, to the south are Jackson and Memphis.

The county I was in, the majority of houses are woodframe and not necessarily all that well-built in many cases. 95% sit on 16" brick "foundations" (I cannot call them real foundations in any sense of the word) which in turn sit on the dirt/ground, not tied into anything, not even a concrete slab. This leaves a 12" crawlspace under each house. Useless. 5% have a 16" poured concrete or concrete block "foundation". Even taller commercial buildings sit on the ground without cellars, it's amazing to me.

There is no running to a neighbor who has a basement, no one has one. No one has storm cellars or storm rooms in the yard. I asked people many times about this absence of basements and no one ever gave me a useful answer. Most just shrug their shoulders and say it's just the way things were done. People are like that there, there's a lot of stoic that's the way it is, they don't agitate for change. There's a lot of God's will involved too, it'll be God's will if it happens. That's certainly their prerogative but I like basements, thanks anyway.

Anyway. I never got a satisfactory answer about the basements. If anyone follows Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a woman in Nashville TN was featured last year - her home had one of these dinky insane "foundations" and she got under the house lying in the crawlspace with her two sons under her. The twister came, took away the house and dumped debris on her back, breaking it. She's paralyzed from the waist down now but she did save her boys. Had she a real cellar . . .

stormie
02-16-2008, 08:39 PM
Anyway. I never got a satisfactory answer about the basements. If anyone follows Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a woman in Nashville TN was featured last year - her home had one of these dinky insane "foundations" and she got under the house lying in the crawlspace with her two sons under her. The twister came, took away the house and dumped debris on her back, breaking it. She's paralyzed from the waist down now but she did save her boys. Had she a real cellar . . .Maybe lack of money to dig deeper for a real cellar. I know it costs far more to have a cellar dug than just a crawl space. And of course, brick houses are more expensive too, than wood frame ones. So since it can't be afforded, "God's will" or "It's just the way it's done" is used instead of "We can't afford it." I dunno. Just a thought.

Maryn
02-16-2008, 08:55 PM
Man, if I lived in tornado country without a basement, I'd be out there with a shovel and a couple of sturdy doors. "God's will" includes giving me free will to save my own life!

Maryn, who just doesn't understand people

Komnena
02-16-2008, 09:47 PM
What exactly is involved with building a safe room? How much can I expect to spend on one?

johnnysannie
02-16-2008, 10:00 PM
I can't quote you the cost but I can tell you how my brother-in-law built one on our property (which had originally been his) when we still lived out in the country.

He poured a concrete floor and build cement block walls with a poured cement roof; it served us well on May 4, 2003 when there was a severe tornado outbreak. We heard the tornado pass overhead and it almost totally destroyed a small town (Pierce City MO) to our east that same evening.

johnnysannie
02-16-2008, 10:01 PM
Man, if I lived in tornado country without a basement, I'd be out there with a shovel and a couple of sturdy doors. "God's will" includes giving me free will to save my own life!

Maryn, who just doesn't understand people

There are in-ground shelters that can be bought and installed - many people in this corner of MO use them. I think there are even some above ground shelters that are supposed to be safe.

I don't understand people either.


Lee Ann, whose home she bought last year has a very nice basement

Ol' Fashioned Girl
02-16-2008, 10:04 PM
Ours is 5' X 6' and cost $3500, complete, including installation. It's made up of heavy steel panels (tested safe to bullets up to deer slugs and tornadoes thru F5) that are a foot wide and 7' high.

If you have room in your garage, they can bolt it to your slab. If you don't, you'll need a slab of sufficient size to serve as the floor. They can build 'em right into a walk-in closet, if you have a slab floor. If you don't have a slab floor, they can cut a hole and install a slab for a 'step down' version.

threedogpeople
02-16-2008, 11:13 PM
Hello, Friends. Checking in from Gallup, NM.

I have a few additions to the list:

extra prescription medication (or have your doctor give you a copy of your prescription(s) and store it with your birth certificate)

supplies for your pets - including water

crow bar/pry bar (you may need to move debris)

deck of playing cards

heavy duty tape (you may need to tape broken windows)

heavy duty (not athletic shoes/sneakers) shoes (broken glass....)

heavy duty plastic sheeting in case you need to block off parts of the
house to hold in the heat, cover a hole in the roof, sleep on top of it, build an outside rain shelter, etc. A tarp is a good idea , too, but it may be too heavy to hang over a broken window, etc.

Staple gun (use it to affix the plastic sheeting)

There is a fantastic product out there that solves the problem of flashlights & batteries. It is self-recharging (you just shake it). I bought about 10 of them at Longs Drug Store for less than $10 each (I think they were on sale for $5). There's one in each car, one in each room at home, in the bedroom there are 3 - one in each nightstand and one in the closet.

Make sure and don't store everything in one place. If you store it in a closet and the closet doors are jammed, you may not be able to get to it.

I also have a big bag of those cheap tea lights in each car and at home. If you get stranded in your car, tea lights burning inside the car can help keep you from freezing. Ditto on a single blocked off room at home. The safest way to use them is to put them inside an empty can. Plus, the candle light provides some comfort when it is dismal and dark.

Oh, we keep an extra propane tank for our BBQ grill. That way if the power goes out we can heat/cook food on the grill. I also keep a supply of cheap aluminum pans (disposables) that I can use on the grill and then throw away. Paper plates, disposable silverware and napkins.

In your car kit you should keep a roll of TP (it's flamable and you can use it as tender to start a fire and you can use it for it's intended purpose if you are stranded in your car for a couple of days).

Also, you should keep a supply of feminine hygiene products in each car and in your emergency kit. Enough said about that.

Handy wipes (for mini-baths, for cleaning hands, etc.) in case the water is out for several days.

I'm sure I missed some things and may have duplicated some things from the excellent lists above.

Judy

threedogpeople
02-16-2008, 11:34 PM
Couple more things -

Arrange an in-state emergency contact. When there are big disasters, the phone company may block out-of-state outgoing and incoming calls in the disaster area. BUT, you'll should still be able to call someone in your same state. Then ask that person to call your out-of-state loved ones for you.

I lived in SF during the earthquake in '89. I couldn't call my parents in Oklahoma but I was able to call my brother in San Diego. He then called my parents and let them know we were OK.

Pay phones may work when your home phone won't. Emergency personnel frequently use pay-phones and the phone company tries to keep them clear. If you see a pay phone off the hook, hang it up and it will clear another line.

Put a printed copy of your phone list with your emergency supplies.

Have a plan with your children and spouse in case they can't get home. It is very frightening to not know where your loved ones are. It will be a comfort to you to know that if something huge happens and your children can't get home from school that they know they are 1) supposed to stay at school or 2) supposed to walk 1 block to Mrs. Jones' house and she will take care of them until you can get there.

Judy

stormie
02-17-2008, 01:43 AM
Also, you should keep a supply of feminine hygiene products in each car and in your emergency kit. Enough said about that.
This may sound funny, but I know of volunteer first aid people who keep these in their glove compartment of their vehicles. It helps staunch the flow of blood if someone cuts themself. So, aside from the obvious reason in case of emergency, they're great for open wounds.

paprikapink
02-18-2008, 12:26 AM
Maybe lack of money to dig deeper for a real cellar. I know it costs far more to have a cellar dug than just a crawl space. And of course, brick houses are more expensive too, than wood frame ones. So since it can't be afforded, "God's will" or "It's just the way it's done" is used instead of "We can't afford it." I dunno. Just a thought.

I think the prevalence of "lack of money" being a justification for construction decisions is how the concept of "building codes" came into being. Like having enough exits, not using toxic materials, certain number of studs per wall...stuff like that. Like, in California there are a lot of codes that are specific to the quakiness of the region. I'da thunk having access to suitable shelter from the local weather would be a requirement. Silly old idealistic me.

Beaker
02-18-2008, 02:14 AM
They just don't have basements around here. I hear the "just get one" argument from people who have never been to the South, but you simply can't get a basement here in most cases. Also, most of the homes aren't on a slab, so attaching a shelter to a slab isn't going to happen. In this area, radon in the ground is extremely high, so most homes are built on crawlspaces to try to mitigate some of it.

I did talk to our builder about some type of basement room, but I was told that the company doesn't build basements. They could build an extremely small in-ground shelter that wouldn't be large enough for my family for $5,000, but not a basement.

What most people do have, however, is a room that's build with tornadoes in mind. Ours is a closet in the center of the house that is build in a wall that's almost solid. With the studs so close together it serves as a very strong room and we use it as our shelter during every tornado. A lot of people have rooms like that built under a staircase for extra reinforcement.

As to why there are no basements here, there are a lot of answers. I think it may have something to do with the clay- it holds moisture all of the time and would probably not be conducive to an underground room. Maybe it's the radon, maybe it's tradition, maybe it's the high level of rainfall. Whatever it is, it's not just a choice- they really are not available.

johnnysannie
02-18-2008, 04:47 AM
This may sound funny, but I know of volunteer first aid people who keep these in their glove compartment of their vehicles. It helps staunch the flow of blood if someone cuts themself. So, aside from the obvious reason in case of emergency, they're great for open wounds.

In a slightly off topic but interesting note, sanitary napkins were originally adapted from bandages by World War I nurses in France who thought they would be excellent for disposable use. Kotex and Moddess adapted the idea and then in the early 1970's, the current adhesive versions were born.

zenwriter
02-18-2008, 06:07 AM
I don't live somewhere with tornadoes, but we do get blizzards out here. I bought these:

http://www.scientificutility.com/prod_heat.htm

in case the power goes out, and I have sleeping bags, a first aid kit, lots of drinking water, and canned/non-perishable food. If we get an ice storm, I hope that will see us through.

Tornadoboy
02-18-2008, 08:45 PM
IMPORTANT NOTE!


In cold areas where people have wood-burning or pellet-burning stoves, make sure there's enough fuel on hand, and cooking can be done on those or in the fireplace. (I've done that many times during big snowstorms.)

I've got a co-worker whom learned this lesson the hard way:

Pellet stoves require ELECTRICITY to work!

Without that little electric tractor belt inside to feed the pellets they're completely useless and will extinguish themselves almost immediately, so either be prepared to power it through some other means (generator, etc) or have an alternate source of heat ready.

However if you have a regular wood burning stove that can burn whole pieces of wood, then power is not an issue.

This is a great topic because I think there are WAY too many people out there whom have no clue as to what to do in big emergencies. Aside from severe weather we've still got the specter of global pandemic hanging over out heads, whether that will be from bird flu or some as-of-yet unknown germ all the experts are saying it's inevitable, and it will be ugly.

We've also got an endless supply of blood thristy yo-yo's whom think the more people they murder the more virgins are waiting for them in La La land. One of these days they're going to round up enough IQ points to figure out that a few well placed car bombs can take out the power in large portions of the country for weeks if not months at a time, not too many people appreciate how vulnerable the power grids are.

And for the record, no I don't have a tar paper shack deep in the woods stocked with canned food and shotguns, but I'll accept cash donations for that effort. :Wha:

johnnysannie
02-18-2008, 08:49 PM
IMPORTANT NOTE!



I've got a co-worker whom learned this lesson the hard way:

Pellet stoves require ELECTRICITY to work!

:

Very true - I have a neighbor who learned the same lesson the hard way during the major January 2007 ice storm that crippled this corner of Missouri for two weeks. We, however, kept warm and cooked on a traditional old wood stove.

Komnena
02-23-2008, 06:45 AM
I bought some boots at a farm supply store and they've been really good in the ice storm. They have supertreads.