Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oklahoma Tornado

This is why we do what we do people. This is why we prepare.

Unfortunately there’s only so much you can do, and while preparing does save lives nothing is 100% guaranteed. While some students took shelter in a nearby church, at least seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. Given the short warning, sheltering in place was the only option they had left.

Check the photos to see the level of destruction in the before and after images.
The tornado hit fast and 15 minutes is barely enough to find shelter or evacuate to a safe distance. Some people had underground storm shelters and that saved their lives. Others moved a few miles away from the path of the tornado.  The general recommendation is to find an underground shelter or cellar, or move to the interior rooms at the lowest level of the building away from doors and windows. Having said that, the tornado completely leveled entire blocks of houses and no person staying inside would have survive using the wood frame structures alone for shelter. With an EF-5 tornado ripping everything around you apart, if you have a shelter you survive, if you don’t you die. It’s that simple.

In tornado prone areas it is crucial to prepare accordingly. Its only because the people in the area are experienced when it comes to tornadoes that there weren’t even more deaths.
Some thoughts that come to mind:

*Have a shelter or identify the nearest one to you. 
*Have a NOAA weather emergency radio so as to receive warning and receive updates on the situation, path of the tornado, etc. 
*Have a Bug Out Bag ready to go, and keep your passports, birth certificates, titles, emergency cash and other important documents all together in a small travel bag, satchel or fanny pact, something compact that you’ll probably want to leave in a safe. If there’s only one thing you can grab before leaving this will probably be it. Why not keep it together with your BOB? Maybe you don’t have time, maybe you are injured or are carrying a kid and cant deal with a bigger bag. Again folks, 15 minutes to escape is hardly enough time.

*You want a safe which you can access fast under stress. A biometric (fingerprint) safe would be a good idea. Mounting them on the floor means there’s more of a chance for it to remain there even if the house is completely destroyed. Floor safes are more secure and easier to conceal anyway.

*Its not a bad idea to add the GPS waypoint of your house. Rescue personnel both in Oklahoma and the tsunami in Chile and Japan have the exact same thing to say: There’s no streets, no landmarks or buildings anymore, so its very hard to tell where a house used to stand. This isn’t just about finding your floor safe in case you didn’t have enough time to grab it before evacuating, but also about finding people that may be buried in a shelter under the debris. 

*If possible, work and live as close as possible from your kid’s school so as to get to them fast during an emergency. I can get to my kids school in ten minutes, probably five if I speed a little. While you can’t plan for everything, being able to get to them fast during an emergency sure helps.



Anonymous said...

Note seven people drowned in a cellar. They could not get out and broken water lines filled it. Always something that can go wrong. You just never know. Ken

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with your recommendation of a biometric safe. I had one, I also had a laptop with fingerprint identification. As a technician, any injury to my fingertips (frequent) would leave me 'locked out'.
Imagine now, the fury of a tornado bearing down on you, and you possibly have just moved glass, wood, whatever, and you have a couple of minor scrapes on your fingertips. You are well and truly screwed at that point!
A battery operated safe with four number coding is far superior, in my book.
Thanks for your blog, it truly is a welcome read everyday. fantastic source of information. Well done!

Anonymous said...

I was in the path of both tornadoes on Sunday and Monday. Fortunately all I sustained was some hail damage.

One thing that is particularly useful is to listen to the police channels on I keep those bookmarked on my smartphone and home machine, so I
can keep tabs on what is going on.
At while you can get internet connectivity.

I bugged out on Monday when it looked like I was going to be right in the path of the tornado. I did grab my portable TV, but it turned out to be almost useless because the local TV stations I could receive were all focused on the damage in Moore. I needed to know what was going on with the storm. It also turned out I could not get internet access where I went to so I could not get listen to That problem is now fixed, as I bought a scanner today and also a bug out bag that will have everything I need for a quick evacuation.

For me, the past to days have been a good lesson in being better prepared.

Anonymous said...

I was in the area of the tornado and I'm a regular reader of your blog, so I had to comment. A friendly neighbor came to offer space in her shelter for me and my children (4 and 2). I had not been watching TV because my kids were napping. I got my kids up, threw together the diaper bag, edc bag, and bug out bag and went across the street to go underground. The tornado didn't quite reach my area, but I'm glad I sheltered. It was good practice.

My edc bag was valuable. It had phone numbers of all of my family, a comb to fix my kids' soaking hair, mints to bribe the kids, keys, knife, etc. I didn't have to spend minutes looking for all my pocket stuff. My bug out bag, on the other hand, needs work. It was so heavy, and soaking wet, I thought my elderly neighbor was going to hurt himself as I handed it down the ladder. In the future, I will break it into two bags, with the heavier stuff like food spread out. Also, I'll work to make it more waterproof. I suspect that many disasters come with rain. Hopefully, the small lessons I learned are valuable.

Greek Caste System said...

Why people in the US build houses from light materials, like wood?
All houses in Greece are build with two layers of bricks and reinforced concrete.
They can also withstand powerful earthquakes.
Why can't they build houses that can survive a tornado?

Anonymous said...

"Why people in the US build houses from light materials, like wood?"

Cost and time - even a full brick house would be damaged in a tornado and the repair costs would be higher than build a new from cheaper materials. And this kind of houses the wood frame structure are quite fast to build.
It is like the insulation: in many country ( mostly in mediterran climate ) it is cheaper to heat or cool (with e.g. AC) than use 10-20 cm of mineral wool.

Anonymous said...

Senor Fiesta here.

Greek Caste, the answer to your question is because we have wood in abundance. It's cheaper and faster. For concrete you need build a "form." With lumber, you just build.

Anonymous said...

I was impressed with the sliding door in ground tornado shelterI saw.
I think it would make it easier to get out of with debris covering it as opposed to the lift door.