Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Perhaps planning for disaster is not tops on the daily list of chores but taking a few minutes before tornado/ blizzard/ hurricaine season or even looming banking crisis, to consider what might be valuable assets for family comfort and safety is a nifty practice to do annually on the Spring or Winter Equinox . When my kids were young, our family happened to live in California, basically on the San Andreas fault line and although they were trained in earthquake drills at school, you don't get over the primal fear of feeling the earth move and your house shake. Then we moved to Texas, the kids were relieved earthquakes were out of their lives but they were terrified of tornadoes. I invented the family mantra "don't be scared, be prepared." Our little rhyming chant was ever so much better than screaming and tears. It helped the children to focus on safety and be team players with their equally frightened, but more stoic parents.

Decades later,our mantra is a fondly recalled bit of family history, as well as a reminder that being even a little prepared gives you some peace of mind in disaster circumstances. I thought I would share a few hints and tips my kids and I have brainstormed over the years. We currently live in the tornado prone Midwest and one of the best items I have purchased was NOAA Weather Radio Alarm. It hangs on the wall between the bedrooms, plugged into an outlet, but with battery back up and it alarms for severe weather or flooding.

Other upstairs disaster preparedness habits we've developed are: keeping leashes for the dogs near to where they usually sleep for quick grab and go and making sure each bedroom has a working flashlight or LED lantern ( keep one handy in the kitchen too). I've trained myself to leave my purse with keys and phone hanging off my bedroom doorknob, easy to take on my way out.

Since we usually head to the basement under a tornado warning, we've got a cache of stuff accessible there. We have a lockbox stored about four feet off the floor.  A few good things to remember to keep there besides your important papers are: photocopies of your homeowners and auto insurance policies, emergency phone numbers, copies of health insurance cards and a hundred dollars in smaller bills.

I learn that Emma is afraid of grate bridges.
I do not have a finished basement, but we have managed to create a comfortable space with a couple of futons, blankets and a rug. I've stashed some non-perishable snacks, spare batteries, pet food, and a basic first aide kit  in a big plastic tub. Add to those, some bottled water and a deck of cards, and we are ready to sit out an evening or longer of tornado warnings. A terrific site to learn more is . And remember, "Don't be scared, be prepared!"

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