So I am driving through North Dakota with my dear friend Avrille and my 3 kids in the backseat. Clouds are getting darker and it starts raining really hard, I mean like bullets hitting the car hard. All of a sudden the emergency broadcast system comes on. You know what I am talking about-the annoying loud beep that occasionally interrupts your music while they are conducting a test-except this time it’s REAl. We listen intently hanging on every word. There’s a tornado a few miles out, holy guacamole Batman-I don’t know a thing about tornados, I come from California, the land of earthquakes, what do I do?
While you can never be totally prepared for a tornado, here’s what you can do in a situation like this where weather can turn ugly. Be prepared, stay calm, and stay safe.
Always check a 10-day weather forecast for whatever region you are heading to, most importantly, check it right before you leave your house. Make sure you have what you need in case of an emergency but don’t over pack. Small rain ponchos, umbrellas, a windbreaker, hoodie, even a jacket if necessary can really come in handy if some nasty weather is in store. Just as another precaution, I always make sure I have a first aid kit handy and my small flashlight in my fanny pack. Don’t fret if you’ve found yourself needing something you forgot. On the same trip we were frozen solid in South Dakota and were completely unprepared-so we headed straight over to Wal-Mart and picked up jackets (for everyone at the unbelievable price of $15 each on sale). Remember, every problem has a solution.
The most important thing is not to panic, remember, your crew is counting on you. Turn on the radio to the local news channel and listen for anything important. Assess the situation, come up with a game plan but whatever you do, don’t lose your cool. My 3 kids were on the verge of completely freaking out, but they saw that I was calm and so that put them slightly more at ease. Your attitude sets the tone, and if you stay calm, everyone else will too.
When you are evaluating your options, think about the consequences and all the “what if’s” that could potentially happen. When I pulled over in the rain, I was really concerned about being visible to other drivers so I made sure all my lights and emergency blinkers were on. After listening to the warnings and tracking the tornado (with our maps) realizing it was a couple of miles away, we decided to continue on in the rain after seeing lots of other drivers on the highway. If we stayed where we were we’d be in its path so it was best to continue on and simply avoid it. We drove slowly with our lights on stopping once under a bridge until the heavy rain eased up a bit.
Weather is an unpredictable thing and each region has it’s own brand of crazy. Research where you’re going and find out what types of weather you can expect and then pack accordingly. If you do encounter an unforeseen situation, always keep your wits about you, and that in turn will help you make smart decisions to ensure that everyone in your party is safe and secure. Safe Travels!