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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Identify your safe place before severe weather blows in

Knowing ahead of time where to go when an ugly storm is bearing down could save your life, but it is the kind of detail that often falls to the bottom of a jam-packed to-do list.

However, sometimes there is very little warning before severe weather hits and no one wants to waste time coming up with a plan on the spot, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“Knowing where to go and what to do in case of an emergency calms fears and reduces the chance of injury or death,” Peek said.

Lots of Oklahomans have storm shelters. In those cases, it is important to make sure it is registered with the county or city. Families also should tell an out-of-town friend or family member of its location so the contact can alert authorities where to look in the case of a disaster.

In lieu of a storm shelter, basements or cellars could be suitable alternatives. The lowest level of a home will work, too, especially if an underground area is not available.

“As you’re scouting potential safe spaces in the lower level of your house, look for interior rooms such as closets or interior hallways, but stay away from areas near doors, windows and outside walls,” Peek said.

Generally, families should plan to shelter at home when possible and safe to do so, since people have been hurt while traveling during a storm. Families also may be aware of any nearby community storm shelters.

Once identified, safe places, including storm shelters, should be kept clean and easily accessible at a moment’s notice.

Underground areas and storm shelters should be stocked with supplies such as food and water for three days, changes of weather appropriate clothing and a first aid kit, Peek said.

“Keep electronics such as cell phones and weather radios on so you can be up to date and listen for changes in the weather,” Peek said. “Also, keep pairs of sturdy, lace up shoes for each member of the family in the safe space in case you have to climb or dig out of debris.”

Do not forget to consider any special equipment or assistive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs family members may need. Check in advance to be sure the devices will fit and still allow everyone to quickly and easily take cover.

Finally, the safe place should be used only for its intended purpose.

“Avoid thinking of your storm shelter or safe space as storage space or an extra closet,” Peek said. “If all your family members can’t fit or if the items could harm you during a storm, you’re defeating the purpose of having that protection.”




Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu


Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078