Recently I found myself faced with a tornado warning for my immediate area, alone with all three girls. I get the weather alerts sent to my phone through Twitter. I had just finished tucking in Pink and Purple. Orange was wrapping up things in the bathroom and wanted some privacy to go potty. I realized I didn’t have my phone so I ran out to the living room to grab it. I didn’t need it, I just for some reason felt the urge to have it. We had some heavy rain a few hours before but it seemed to have passed. It was just drizzling now and coming straight down so I thought nothing of it.
I picked up my phone and realized I had SEVEN missed texts and alerts. I immediately called Nana and Papa Bear. I figured they’d have the TV on and be able to give me an update about what was going on. The sirens started wailing as I talked to Papa Bear. I quickly explained that I needed a good idea of what was happening; that I was by myself and that the girls were sleeping. He said to wake everyone up and get downstairs quickly and he would get me updates as they came.
I grabbed tennis shoes and socks for Orange, helped her put them on right away, grabbed her blankie and told her to wait right at the gate at the top of the steps for me. She was scared and kept asking what was going on. I was trying to move as quickly as possible so I just kept telling her that I needed her to be brave and listen very carefully to my instructions. I ran into the living room, slipped on my hard sole slippers and within seconds was in the nursery to wake up Pink and Purple. Both were already fast asleep even though I had only set them down less than 20 minutes before. I rarely carry both girls at the same time but somehow I managed to get them both and their blankies, open the gate and safely make it downstairs to our converted storm shelter.
Two years ago, almost to the day we had a very similar experience. Princess Daddy was with me that time. Pink and Purple were not even conceived yet. That tornado hit just three miles away from our home. That was the first time one had come so close in my memory. Surviving the event and realizing we were highly unprepared for this type of event, prompted up to create a disaster/emergency kit.
If your home is an area prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes or any other type of natural disaster, you need to have an emergency plan. You need to teach this plan to your children by practicing it regularly. If faced with an emergency, the last thing you want to worry about is running around the house gathering up supplies. If you noticed, my story didn’t include grabbing flashlights or snacks or toys. We didn’t have to make last-minute potty breaks. All we had to do was get shoes and go. (The blankies were just for comfort since it was after bedtime.)
In the case of the tornado last week, it touched down several times, some less than a mile from our home. We are safe and our home is undamaged minus the large amount of limbs down in our yard. The heavy rain came in the windows that I had left open causing a bit of flooding in our bedroom but otherwise we made it through unharmed.
After juggling three kids down the steps, I was welcomed with a rug to sit on, blankets, flashlights, plenty of water, snacks, juice, a few small puzzles, an extension cord and phone charger, Sippy cups, diapers, wipes, even a potty chair.
Aside from the anxiety purely caused by the nearing storm, I had little to worry about in regards to running around the house gathering up things to help us out. We stayed in our storm shelter (a converted coal room partitioned off our main basement) for just about an hour. Once the all clear was given, the girls went back to bed and I cleaned up the water mess while waiting for Princess Daddy to arrive safely back home.
I would highly encourage you all think ahead and create a space like we’ve created. We even plan on reinforcing the room with hurricane strength tethers and steel doors with dead bolts. We want to secure shelving for some of the loose Rubbermaid containers and gallons of water. We’d like to get outlets in the room as well as a small antenna TV. These are all things that cost money so it does take some time to get it all planned out but it is well worth spending the extra money to ensure the safety of our family!
For more information and ideas on emergency preparedness, visit the CDC’s website.