Ten Steps to Tornado Safety

A Doppler on Wheels (DOW) unit observing a tor...
A Doppler on Wheels (DOW) unit observing a tornado near Attica, Kansas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I shared my memories of surviving the Ruskin Heights tornado of 1957.

Today I’d like to explain what was wrong with what we did.

  1. Few people took tornadoes as seriously as they should have. ALWAYS TAKE A TORNADO SERIOUSLY; IF YOU WANT TO CHASE OR WATCH THEM, GET THE TRAINING, FIRST.
  2. There were very few sirens and they were not systematic in their sounds. LEARN WHAT THE VARIOUS TONES AND PATTERNS OF YOUR EARLY WARNING SYSTEM MEAN. ALSO, DEMAND THAT YOUR AREA SOUND SIRENS ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES AND PRESCRIBED TESTING, NOT FOR SETTING CLOCKS OR CELEBRATING.
  3. It was against some law or policy to issue tornado warnings over radio, although a Mr. Audsley did so, that night in 1957, risking his job to save lives. ALWAYS LISTEN TO RADIO, OR BETTER YET, TO A DOPPLER-BASED WEATHER RADIO STATION. HAVE A RADIO THAT WORKS DURING BLACKOUTS.
  4. Few people knew what to do. Our hiding under a table was as futile as our running across lawns was dangerous. KNOW HOW TO BE SAFE, WHICH PORTIONS OF ANY BUILDING ARE GENERALLY SAFER IN A TORNADO, AND HOW YOU CAN BE SAFER IF CAUGHT OUTDOORS.
  5. We were barefoot or nearly barefoot. WHEN YOU REALIZE A TORNADO MAY BE ON ITS WAY, PUT ON YOUR MOST STURDY SHOES AND SOME SOCKS, STURDY JEANS, AND A STURDY SHIRT. MAKE YOUR CHILDREN DO THE SAME. Although helmets for children were not available over 50 years ago, today we also should store helmets in the basement or safe place during tornado weather, one for each family member.
  6. Many people were caught bathing. NEVER BATHE DURING LIGHTNING OR TORNADOS.
  7. Although Kansas and Missouri are notorious, worldwide, for hosting tornados, few people were ready with a plan and supplies. WE HAVE LEARNED HOW TO FACE TORNADOS WITH PREPAREDNESS. RENEW YOUR PREPAREDNESS PLAN AND SUPPLIES AT LEAST EVERY SPRING.
  8. We were shocked at the far-reaching effects. DEBRIS CAN LAND ANYWHERE. WATCH OUT FOR FALLING DOORS, TRICYCLES, ETC.
  9. People were injured by the aftermath. DO NOT TOUCH DOWNED WIRES OR GO NEAR THEM—ELECTRICITY CAN JUMP. IF YOU SMELL GAS, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT LIGHT OR START ANYTHING OR CAUSE ANY SPARKS, EVEN ELECTRIC SPARKS. DO NOT GO INTO WRECKED BUILDINGS WITHOUT HEADGEAR. ETC.
  10. Although phones were different back then and most were down, today we must: MAKE ONE PHONE CALL TO AN OUTSIDE FRIEND OR RELATIVES AND ASK THEM TO FORWARD YOUR STATUS. LEAVE THE LINES OPEN FOR THOSE WHO NEED EMERGENCY CARE.

More tomorrow.

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21 thoughts on “Ten Steps to Tornado Safety

  1. faerylandmom says:

    I’m so glad I don’t live in tornado-heavy areas…they scare the bejeebers out of me, and I hope I never live to see one that close. Praying many read your post and take it to heart.

    • katharinetrauger says:

      Oh, FLM, I used to be so very scared of tornados! But the Lord did an amazing thing–He took me through so many of them that I grew accustomed to them. The way He did this was to send me tornado dreams. In each dream, my worst fear always came up: the fear of being separated from my children. In each tornado dream, we were separated, but they were all okay. He taught me He wanted me to trust in His ability to keep them. It helped SO much!
      Thanks for your comments and for your prayers!

    • katharinetrauger says:

      Hello, Cmvm13!
      So good to hear from you! And to know all is well with you.
      Yes, we have managed to survive all the weather, and trips to eye doctor and all.
      Oh, you don’t know how it pleases me to hear you are doing well! 🙂

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      Taryn!
      I just now found this comment you have made! I am so glad for you, too! I think you posted this when we also were under a warning, so I may have had a few days of lost connectivity or something. I am so sorry I just now found it! 😦 However, I am so glad you survived! 🙂

  2. Katharine Trauger says:

    Reblogged this on Home's Cool! and commented:

    I really believe all this stuff truly helps. I’ve lived in tornado alley for my whole life and after a while, a pattern emerges that the warning officials seem to be unable to see. Pay attention and you will get it, too. I would like to add that taking your Bible, eyeglasses, phone, and meds with you is a very good idea, too. 🙂

  3. Andy says:

    I’ll never forget the several that went through the Hamburg/Crossett, AR areas as I was growing up, especially the one that leveled North Crossett while I worked at the hardware store. Deliveries for shingles, insulation, and lumber kept me busy for several weeks, and trips into the ruins with those supplies were truly sombering.

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      I can imagine! I remember similar views of the Ruskin Heights tornado. The thing that amazed me most, though, in Crossett, was Georgia-Pacific Corporation giving away multiple truckloads of exterior-grade plywood to those who had lost roofs, so they could quickly get back in the dry before approaching rains struck. Totally heart-warming.

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      You’re right about the incredible part! If you live with them, though, it’s possible to develop a sense for what to do. Several times the teachers demonstrated this sense. For instance, their instructions were to proceed to the gym. They decided on the hallway, instead, but when it looked unsafe, chose the pile-up on the bathroom floor. Turned out to be a safe place. On a happier note, a tornado once completely blew away a fully-loaded high school near us and no one was hurt except one teacher, who was scurrying through the building to be sure every child was in compliance with the safety plan. We just never know for sure how it will go.

  4. brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR) says:

    You make a great point here. With all the education about tornadoes, everything takes practice. I wonder how many people throughout the U.S. re-evaluate their plans for fire and inclement weather of all sorts? Repetition is key. If you don’t practice it, talk about it … so everyone has it down! Safety is always a priority.

    Teachers are amazing, and again in the most recent Moore, OK tornado many more children would have lost lives if they were out-of-school on their way home. Sometimes, even though it’s so hurtful to lose lives that’s when learning takes place. We re-evaluate what “could have been” or “would have been” with different scenarios.

    I think you have a great list. We added to our list to grab a bicycle or motorcycle helmet (or helmet of any type) to the good pair of sturdy shoes and jeans list.

    Take care and stay safe.

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      You are very right about the helmets, and I mention this in the next post.
      This post, however, is devoted to what we did wrong, and back then, helmets for children were not available.
      I shall add it, though, today, since few have read past this post to the next one. Thanks! 🙂

  5. Rush'd Lady says:

    I’m thankful none of our family have been hurt in the many tornadoes & microbursts we have lived through. God had his hand of protection covering us. The Ruskin Heights Memorial is not far from us and I read a book about the devastation. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it. Kathy, I’m glad you were saved so I could “meet you” through your Lincoln article later. So cool all the things we’ve had in common. . .

    • katharinetrauger says:

      I’ll say! I’m glad we’ve met, too, and glad our little neighborhood escaped. Sometimes we drive through the area, and I’m thinking next time, I’ll warn you so we can set up a meet. What do you think? 😉

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