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Preparing your family for emergencies, such as storms and tornadoes

Storm and tornado at Burwell, Neb. on June 16, 2014. Photo by Gabe Garfield.

Is your family prepared for emergencies?

Since we live in Nebraska, we have a great warning system from weather watchers, TV meteorologists and law enforcement to prepare us to take action storms are coming. But not all emergencies have advance notice.

AmeriSpec’s Ask the Inspector has these suggestions for making preparations at home that will keep you and your family safe during emergencies.

  • Designate two emergency evacuation routes from each room.
  • Determine where the family will meet in case they need to leave the house and can’t get back in.
  • Decide on the safest room in the home to meet based on the type of disaster. For example, the basement is the best place to go during a tornado warning. But during a blizzard, a main-level room may be a better choice.
  • Install smoke alarms on each level of the home. Test the batteries at least once a year.
  • Keep copies of important documents such as birth certificates, insurance papers, titles, etc. in a single folder that you can find them or take them with you if needed.
  • Keep a three-day supply of non-perishable foods on hand. This would include canned goods, dried foods, energy bars, and any other foods that do not require cooking or refrigeration. Also keep a gallon of water per person per day in a plastic container. And don’t forget about food and water for your pets.
  • Keep first aid kits in your home and your car.
  • Have a battery-operated radio and flashlight, as well as extra sets of batteries.
  • Keep an emergency stash of cash. If power is out, stores won’t be able to process debit or credit cards.
  • Keep a spare set of house and car keys near an exit in case you have to leave in a hurry.

Missouri Storm Aware adds these hints for staying safe during a severe thunderstorm or tornado.

  • Create a plan for where to go during a tornado or severe storm, for home, work and/or school. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Be sure you know the emergency dismissal policy for your child’s school or day care, and how that news will be communicated.
  • Make sure everyone understands how tornado siren warning systems. Explain to children the difference between testing and actual warnings.
  • Teach the entire family how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Teach your children the difference between a watch and a warning. Make sure they know what county they live in.

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