Toddlers and Tornado Whistles


We have had some severe weather this week in Nebraska, which is no surprise for this time of year. I’ve always loved a good thunderstorm and have been through my fair share of tornado whistles. But, this is the first year that I feel like Brecken really understands, and in return is hesitant when storms start brewing.

Yesterday I knew that we were in a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, but it wasn’t raining, thundering, or lightening yet and the wind was pretty normal. I looked out the window and saw a volunteer fire vehicle go by, so I knew the storm watchers were out. I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but in our small town, the volunteer firefighters and EMT’s double as the storm watchers. Within one minute of seeing them drive by, the tornado sirens started going off.

Stay calm- I know as a mother that is what I am supposed to do in order to not scare the children. But, staying calm is not one of my strong suits. So I jumped up and grabbed Annabelle and said “Ok Bear let’s get to the basement.” Brecken’s face went white and I knew I had freaked him out. Kids are smart and can sense fear….which is again, why I should have stayed calm. I grabbed a flashlight and we went downstairs into our 116-year-old unfinished basement.

I have to add that this is my LEAST favorite part of our house. In the 8 months that we have lived here I have maybe been in the basement 3 times for a total of less than a minute. I tried to talk myself into staying upstairs and going to an interior room with no windows. “Hopefully it won’t actually be a tornado,” I thought. Then I realized that is probably what everyone thinks, so I faced my fears and went downstairs. Jeremy was stuck at work late because of an unexpected meeting, so I tried calling him just to let him know that the tornado whistles were going off….but again he was in a meeting and unavailable.

So we got in the basement and I remembered I had read somewhere to keep your kids calm by playing games or keeping them busy. So we decided to Facetime my mom “Mimi” who was babysitting my nephews Carter and Silas. Other than my flashlight and my phone (which was at 2% battery) I realized I was 0% prepared. Luckily the sirens stopped going off and we were all cleared to return to the main floor. Brecken talked about the “Nado Storms” for the rest of the evening and kept asking me what tornados sound like.

So I decided today that I needed to get a storm kit ready and in the basement in order to feel more safe and comfortable in the event of severe weather.

According to the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Web site www.ready.gov, these are supplies you should include in your basic disaster supply kit:

-Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
-Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
-Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
-Flashlight and extra batteries
-First aid kit
-Whistle to signal for help
-Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
-Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
-Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
-Manual can opener for food
-Local maps
-Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Aside from your Basic Disaster Supplies, these are additional supplies ready.gov suggested:

-Prescription medications and glasses
-Infant formula and diapers
-Pet food and extra water for your pet
-Cash or traveler's checks and change
-Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit  developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
-Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information from www.ready.gov
-Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
-Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. -Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
-Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
-Fire extinguisher
-Matches in a waterproof container
-Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
-Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
-Paper and pencil
-Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Feel free to visit www.ready.gov to download a printable pdf file of the Emergency Supply List. I am also interested in knowing if there are any parents (or really anyone at all) out there who have toddlers or children who have included other special items in their storm shelter room in order to keep the children calm and busy.

Prayers for a safe storm season for us all!