Having moved to Oklahoma some 6 years I could have been forgiven for not knowing much about Tornados and what I was getting myself into. The concept of living in what some people told me was part of Tornado Alley wasn’t about to scare me off because I just saw this is a beautiful part of the world – I now realize that like most beautiful things they can come at a cost. The cost of living in Oklahoma (along with many other states and parts of the world for that matter) is the potential threat from natural weather conditions – including Tornados.
In the first few years there was really nothing to talk about in terms of tornado activity in and around Oklahoma and talking to many long term residents there was much complacency around the entire subject and questions or discussion around what needed to be planned, the need to have a tornado shelter, how to go about finding a supplier for storm shelters in Oklahoma, what type of storm shelters there are and how to even know when you should take cover seemed to fall on deaf ears… This may sound ridiculous to some but I can tell you it was true. So whilst my family back in the UK busily stressed about this on my behalf I was none the wiser.
The activities that arose earlier this year changed my mind immediately and completely. Not one to quote facts for fear of getting it wrong – I think this was the worst death toll as a result of tornados since 1925. Everyone should prepare themselves for the storm season each and every year. Anyone that has gone through the events of this year “up close and personal” knows how quickly the weather can change. Now that is fine if you are talking sun one minute and rain the next – someone said to me not long after I moved to Oklahoma … “if you don’t like the weather then just wait a minute”. Totally different matter if you are talking rain one minute, lightning the next, then hail followed by an almighty tornado! Being prepared ahead of time is imperative both for your safety and peace of mind.
Oklahoma emergency officials are dedicated to their job of keeping residents notified of upcoming or changing circumstances and their sole objectives is to keep them safe when severe weather conditions threaten. However, the best officials and the best warning systems cannot guarantee safety when Mother Nature sets in – how can you guarantee anything when you are up against something that might be a mile wide and packing a wind punch of up to 200 miles per hour?
Points to Consider if you are looking to purchase a storm shelter:
1) There are many different types of storm shelters ranging from in ground tornado shelters through to safe rooms and everything in between. Your best options is to deal with a reputable supplier and ensure all your requirements are taken into account and all your questions answered before proceeding
2) Consider the material options available to you and the look and location of the installed tornado shelter
3) Ensure you understand whether the installation and delivery costs are included in the prices you are being quoted
4) Ensure you understand what preparatory work is required by you prior to the shelter being deliver or installed
Points to Consider if you already have a storm shelter:
1) If water in your shelter is a problem then call an expert to assess what the root cause is, how water is getting in and assist/advise in any repairs. Once the repairs to your storm shelter are made then clean up any remaining water inside the storm shelter.
2) Choose a low toxic method to remove any unwanted bugs and critters from your storm shelter. Also seal up any cracks that may be allowing them access in the first place. Again, once the repairs have been made then clean up any remaining critters from your shelter.
3) Prepare your essential survival kit in case you end up being holed up in your storm shelter for any period of time – including items such as non perishable foods, flashlights (back at home we call them torches!), a battery operated radio, spare batteries for both the radio and flashlights etc.
4) Don’t forget to include approx 1 gallon of water per person you expect to be in your tornado shelter along with any essential medication e.g. insulin. Take into account any special requirements you may have – for instance babies, children etc.
5) Think about clothing and footwear requirements – you should try to ensure the essentials are in the storm shelter waiting for you e.g. footwear, in case things happen in such a hurry that people go in the shelter without footwear, you can be sure that if a tornado hits you will need footwear on the way out!
Having learnt through first-hand experience this year – being prepared really does matter. It’s not stupid, it’s not panicking a reason – it is not anything other than the right thing to do to protect the lives of you and your family! Complacency is not the answer – a Tornado Shelter is!