Severe Weather Awareness Week: Emergency kits and tornado shelters

Published: Mar. 3, 2020 at 5:25 AM CST
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You should have your emergency kit during an evacuation or any time you take shelter inside your own home.

Dicie Nicklaus is the Disaster Program Manager at the Red Cross. She says at minimum, you should have enough water and food to last your family three days. You should also have a flashlight with extra batteries and a weather radio.

Additionally, you should keep personal hygiene items, work gloves, a first aid kit and a list of written phone numbers. "We just don't remember phone numbers anymore. Write them down, laminate them, whatever you need to do, but make sure you have those numbers. Don't always depend on the cell phone," says Nicklaus.

She says many people forget about having medications and inhalers. She suggests keeping a seven day supply in the emergency kit.

You should also keep important paperwork with you. That includes birth certificates, social security cards, proof of address, deed/lease to home, and insurance paperwork.

Consider all family members, too. You may need bottles and formula, baby food, and diapers. You should also have food and water for each pet.

During a tornado warning, the safest place to be inside your home is in a room or closet with no windows. If your house does not have a safe room, figure out your plan now. Find a community shelter in your neighborhood, or work out a plan with a neighbor.

You should also think about what you're going to do if you are not home. If your kids have sports practices, club meetings or other activities, find a shelter in those places too. Keep the kids involved. They're used to practicing at school, so practicing at home can reduce panic in an emergency.

"Have the kids grab their helmets for whatever sports that they play, find some activities for them to do and hunker down, find a way to stay informed and be safe," Nicklaus says.

Your family may not all be together at home during a storm. If your house is damaged or destroyed and you can't get home, have a meeting place elsewhere in the community. It could be a friend or family member's house.

Keep in mind cell phones may not work after a big storm. Have a plan that does not require cell phones.

Severe weather can be scary, so pack comfort items for the kids. "Maybe it's a coloring book or a regular book, a stuffed animal, or even a photo of loved ones. We want to make sure that they have something to concentrate on other than the severe weather," she says.

Nicklaus says before disaster hits, you should use technology to save family memories. "Don't forget your family photos. Use an online site where you can upload those because those are one thing - you can't replace those," Nicklaus says.

The Red Cross sells emergency kits. You can shop