Last night’s tragic tornadoes in Texas serve as a reminder that deadly storms can form and escalate with little warning.

The best time to prepare for a Tornado or severe storm is before it hits. 

So prepare today.

Here are some helpful hints for how to prepare:

  1. Build an emergency kit. Tips for building the kit can be found here.
  2. Develop a family communication plan. Here are some suggestions.
  3. Be alert. Pay attention to the weather outside (until you need to take cover- then stay away from the windows!). These are danger signs:
    1. Dark, greenish sky
    2. Large hail
    3. Large, dark, low-lying clouds (especially if they are rotating)
    4. Loud roar similar to a train
    5. If you see any of these signs- take shelter immediately. 
  4. Pay attention to the news. Know the guidelines of when you should take cover.
  5. Locate and mark where utility switches and valves are in your home so they can be turned off in an emergency if time allows
  6. Charge your mobile phone, laptop and other mobile device batteries
  7. Brush up on your watches and warning terms. That way, you’ll understand the risk and can better make safety and evacuation decisions
    1. Severe thunderstorm watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and around the watch area. These storms produce hail of ¾ inch in diameter and/or wind gusts of at least 58 mph.
    2. Severe thunderstorm warning: Issued when a severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. These warnings usually last for a period of 30 to 60 minutes.
    3. Tornado watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and multiple tornadoes in and around the watch area. People in the affected areas are encouraged to be vigilant in preparation for severe weather.
    4. Tornado warning: Spotters have sighted a tornado or one has been indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. When a tornado warning has been issued, people in the affected area are strongly encouraged to take cover immediately.
  8. Review what to do DURING a tornado. Have a plan for different locations: at home, in the car, at an outdoor event, etc. Here is a great guide
  9. If you evacuate and safely have time, notify friends and/or family members who are unaffected by the storm of where you’re going and why.
  10. Photograph your valuables and store them in a fire and waterproof safe. Also use the safe to store important documents such as birth certificates, ownership documentation for cars and boats, Social Security cards, insurance policies and wills.
  11. Check your homeowner’s insurance to confirm your coverage in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Tornadoes can be accompanied by heavy rains and flooding, which most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover. Here’s some information on California Casualty’s coverage.

 For more tips check out these sources:

  1. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  2. The Weather Channel
  3. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 
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