Today was a BIG day for us. We got a tornado shelter, and it is so exciting! it means that this spring and many to come will be a lot less stressful and that we get to keep our family a lot safer.
I have grown up in Oklahoma where tornadoes in springtime are just a part of life. It is no different than other parts of the country getting snow during the winter. I realize people say, “Then why do you live there?” My answer would be that this is where our homes, families, and jobs are. Living anywhere is going to have its occurrences whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, or mudslides. Ours just happens to be tornadoes.
Also, tornadoes are unpredictable. While they tend to come to our area more than others, there’s no safe tornado free zone. Then when there are not tornadoes, Oklahoma can be really beautiful. And if you do have a devastating experience, I guarantee there will be people here to support you and help you rebuild. Oklahomans are typically nice.
I thought I’d include some information in case anyone outside of my state or surrounding area reads this.
- A tornado watch means you should keep an eye on the weather because it may get worse. A tornado warning means it has gotten worse, and you may need to take cover.
- To “take cover” means getting in the centermost room without any windows, in the bathtub, or in a storm shelter for safety.
- After watching HGTV I realized that most homes outside of Oklahoma seem to have basements. I’m sure there are a few here that exist, but it is unusual. I have heard a couple different explanations on why, but the most common is that our soil is clay-based and moist. This makes basements prone to leaks, floods, and mold.
- Tornadoes are measured by intensity on the Fujita scale, or F Scale, from 0-5. F-0 is the least intense and destructive. F-5 is the most. F-5 tornadoes are extremely rare and dangerous with winds exceeding 200 mph. These only account for about 1% of all tornadoes.
- There are different types of shelters. Some are installed underground in your yard or patio and tend to be larger. There are above ground safe rooms. Then there’s what we got, a small space in your garage floor. We don’t even have to go outside to take cover now!
Where we live seems to be particularly prone to crazy springtime weather. One year hail the size of softballs pelted us when it was sunny just minutes before. It broke the windshield of my car.
We have had 2 F-5 tornadoes crisscross our house.
I’ve had some first-hand tornado experiences where I’ve seen one while driving, and another time one came through our neighborhood as a kid. Even though over the last few years we have had less contact with tornadoes than before, it’s safe to say it’s been scarier because we have the kids now.
We have family that lives a few miles north and south of us with a shelter. So before the weather would get to the point of needing to take cover, we would go to one of their houses. A few times the meteorologist has said to get underground, and if you didn’t have a place get underground to go get somewhere fast. We would load up the kids to head out, but everyone else would too. Then there would be traffic jams in every direction with bad weather headed straight towards us.
Other times my work would let out early to try to get us home safely, but I worked on the other side of town. I’d race to meet my husband and the kids at his aunt’s house listening to the weather on the radio the entire time. Once it took me hours because all the roads to get to them had already flooded.
There’s no worse feeling in the world than when I was trying to get to my kids and couldn’t or when we were trying to get them to a safe place and couldn’t. I mean that I felt white-knuckled, loss of feeling in my limbs type scared.
So we have had to save up for it, but getting a shelter is exciting for us because it means a lot less stress and that we get to keep our family safer.