Couldn’t Sleep Last Night

Last night, I was not prepared for a tornado.  I have taken baby steps over the last year to get my family more prepared for emergencies.  I have several other posts on the back burner that detail all of the things I have been doing, and I will post those soon.  Yet, despite my efforts, I learned just how unprepared I actually am should a disaster strike.

Here in Texas, severe thunderstorms are as common as Wal-Marts…seems like there is one on every corner.  I love thunderstorms.  Something about them makes me feel alive.  However, last night, the hairs on my neck stood on end.  The thunder was just a little louder than it usually is.  The winds were just a little bit stronger than they usually are.  Instead of feeling invigorated, I felt concerned.  You see, I have lived in Texas my whole life, and I have never encountered a tornado (thankfully).  That doesn’t mean the day won’t come.

So I was in bed, feeling quite unnerved, and my mind suddenly raced with a thousand thoughts: “What if there is a tornado tonight? What would we do?”  I thought about the food and water I have set aside. “Would that be enough?”  “Where are the flashlights?”  The kids had taken them to a night time scavenger hunt. “Did they put them back?” I had no idea. “Where is the first aid kit?”  We had recently gone camping, and had not unpacked the bags yet.  “At what point should I tell the kids to get in the bathtub?”  I didn’t want to alarm them for no reason.

My mind was a whirlwind, much like the storm that raged outside.  I convinced myself that everything would be fine…it always is, and that I was overreacting.  I suppressed my fears, and tried to go to sleep.

I found out the next morning, that there were actually two tornadoes that touched down in the next town over!  Goosebumps pricked up on my skin.  My instincts were right.  Here are some photos of the destruction, courtesy of kxan news:

I share this story because it is easy to convince ourselves that nothing bad will happen. Here I am, an advocate for emergency preparedness, and I felt terribly unprepared. Luckily for us, nothing bad happened, but our luck may not last forever.  I don’t want to feel like I did last night.  Today, I am addressing all those questions I had.  The flashlights and first aid kit are back in place.  I picked up a few extra cans of food and water when I did my regular grocery shopping.  I talked with my kids about our tornado plan.

The key with being prepared is, don’t get complacent.  I don’t mean live in fear.  I mean that prepping should be a natural thing we do, like getting an oil change, or spring cleaning.

If I was smart, I would have had a NOAA Weather Radio. This is a special radio that is programmed to alert you for severe weather warnings. If I had one of these radios, I would have had my answer, and I wouldn’t have been left guessing.  Couldn’t I have just turned on the weather station on my tv?  The power was out, so I had no tv, and no internet.  It’s fairly common for the power to go out for an hour or two.  I am prepared for long periods without power, but I didn’t consider the possibility of not being able to get a weather report.

What about sirens?  The city has tornado sirens, don’t they?

That’s what I thought too.  But I recently found out that many cities do not have the sirens, and depend on reverse 911 emergency alert texts to your cell phone.  So if I was waiting to hear that siren before taking action, I would never hear it.

The nice thing about this radio is that it has a battery backup, so if the power goes out, it will run off of battery.  Also, if you are sound asleep, and there is a tornado warning for your area, it well set off an alarm to wake you up, giving you and your family time to get to safety.  Sometimes tornadoes can be on top of you in a matter of seconds, so every second matters.

I have learned from this experience, not to become complacent. I have ordered my NOAA radio.  I hope to be better prepared for next time, because next time might be the real thing.

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