You and your family can benefit from having a disaster plan in place, especially if you live in an area of the country where tornadoes frequently occur, like Tornado Alley. This is a nickname given to the Southern Plains of the central United States because it experiences a high frequency of tornadoes every year.
The first thing you need to determine is where everyone should take cover in case of a tornado. A basement or underground shelter is the safest location, followed by an interior room or bathroom. Bathrooms are a good choice because their plumbing is anchored into the ground, plus they have extra framing. An interior hallway is the next best place, as long as you have something heavy to hide under, because falling debris will probably get to you before the actual tornado.
If you live in a mobile home, get out immediately and head to an underground community shelter. If there is no such facility available, select a low-lying ditch nearby. You should designate an out-of-town family member as a contact person in case your family gets separated, and make sure everyone knows his or her phone number by heart.
The American Red Cross suggests you create an emergency supply kit, as well, to keep on hand in case of a disaster situation:
- First-aid kit including any family member's essential medication
- Battery-powered radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Bottled water
- Canned and boxed foods and a hand-operated can opener
- Candles and matches
- Work gloves and sturdy shoes
- Cash and credit cards
- Written instructions on how to turn off the utilities in your home