Be Storm-Ready: A Parent's Guide to Tornado Preparedness

By Macaroni KID Springfield MO May 3, 2024

As a parent, ensuring the safety and well-being of your family is always a top priority, especially when facing the unpredictable force of nature like tornadoes. Living in Springfield, Missouri, where tornadoes can be a threat, it's essential to have a plan in place to keep your loved ones safe when severe weather strikes. Here's your go-to guide for tornado preparedness, complete with safety tips, insights from the American Red Cross, and an emergency kit checklist that includes items for babies, children, and family pets.

Creating a Tornado Preparedness Plan

  1. Designate a Safe Space: Identify a safe area in your home where your family can seek shelter during a tornado. According to the American Red Cross, this space should be "an underground shelter, basement, or safe room" if available. If not, choose an interior room on the lowest level of your home, away from windows.
  2. Practice Drills: Regularly conduct tornado drills with your family so that everyone knows what to do when a tornado warning is issued. Make it a learning activity for your kids, but emphasize the importance of taking shelter quickly and calmly.
  3. Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit stocked with essentials to sustain your family for at least 72 hours. Use a large plastic tote or backpacks and store in an easy to access, central location in your home.

Emergency Kit Supply Checklist:

  • Water: One gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation.
  • First aid kit: Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary medications.
  • Flashlights and batteries: Make sure each family member has a flashlight and extra batteries. You may want to consider small camping headlamps, so adults can keep their hands available to assist children. 
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio: To stay informed about weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Whistle: To signal for help if needed.
  • Personal hygiene items: Include toiletries, moist towelettes, and hand sanitizer.
  • Non-perishable food: Stock up on canned goods (along with a can opener), granola bars, nuts, and other ready-to-eat items.
  • Extra clothing and blankets: Prepare an extra set of clothing and blankets for each family member.
  • Important documents: Keep copies of identification, insurance cards, and other essential documents in a waterproof/fireproof container.
  • Cash: Have some cash on hand in case ATMs are not accessible.
  • Baby supplies: Diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and any other necessary items for infants and toddlers.
  • Child comfort items: Toys, books, and simple games to keep children occupied and calm during an emergency.
  • Pet supplies: Food, water, medications, leash, collar with ID tags, and a carrier or crate for each pet.

Safety Reminders:

  • Wear Shoes: Encourage everyone in your family to wear sturdy shoes during a tornado warning. Debris and broken glass can pose a significant hazard, and shoes can help protect against injury if storm damage occurs.
  • Use Head Protection: Consider storing helmets or pillows in your designated safe space to provide head protection during a tornado. According to the American Red Cross, "head injuries are a leading cause of fatalities during tornadoes."

Handling Middle of the Night Storm Warnings:

  • Stay Prepared: Keep shoes and flashlights near your bed so that you can quickly access them in case of a nighttime tornado warning.
  • Have a Plan: Ensure that every family member knows where to go and what to do if a tornado warning occurs while they are sleeping. 
  • Stay Informed: Invest in a weather radio with an alarm feature that can wake you up in the event of a tornado warning. Alternatively, sign up for weather alerts on your smartphone to receive notifications even while you're asleep.

Locating Public Tornado Shelters

While your home may serve as a safe place during a tornado, there may be instances when seeking shelter outside of your residence becomes necessary. Fortunately, Springfield has several designated public tornado shelters to accommodate residents during severe weather events.

To locate public tornado shelters in Springfield, Missouri several resources can assist you:

  1. Public Schools: In Springfield, SPS has designated tornado shelter areas where students and staff can seek refuge during tornado warnings. Some schools open to the public during tornado warnings. Click HERE for details about Springfield Public School Tornado Safe Rooms
  2. Missouri's State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA): Contact your region's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) for information on shelters in your area.
  3. American Red Cross: Reach out to your local Red Cross chapter to access a list of shelters they may operate in Missouri.
  4. Local news outlets: Leading up to storm season, local news sources may publish information on nearest public tornado shelters. 

Join Pedro the Penguin as he learns how to be prepared for and take action during a tornado along with his friends Amelia and Elijah. This video is a companion to the Prepare with Pedro: Tornado Digital Storybook and Song activities made available by the American Red Cross.

When visiting local businesses and events in Springfield, be sure to tell them Macaroni KID sent you... and don't forget to tell all of your friends!
Macaroni KID Springfield is a free local events calendar, weekly newsletter, and website focused on family-friendly events and resources in the Greater Springfield, Missouri area. We gather all the local family-friendly events and activities happening in Springfield so you can find them all in one place!