Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Happy May, everyone! It's that lovely time of year that the flowers come up. Oh wait, that already happened in April. It's that lovely time of year when it's sunny. Oh wait, it's supposed to be all sorts of rainy today in the Midwest. Umm...what else is this month lovely for?

For most children it's a reminder that they'd rather be outside than in school and summer break cannot come fast enough. The parents are scrambling to find babysitters and activities for the summer. College students cannot wait to come home! Oh, and graduation!! Farmers are getting ready to till and seed the soil. Some farmers are making ready for the local markets. The animals are giving birth. Sheep sheering is still happening. The insects are returning.

May is truly lovely for tornado season! Well, it's lovely for the local chasers. Here, in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, May is the month of our prime tornado season. There is a second spring in August, but not nearly as many tornadoes spring up as in the month of May.

Let's talk a little bit about safety.

The biggest thing is to NOT PANIC. This is especially true when you have little ones. They pick up on that fear and anxiety. When you display courage, they wish to be brave and courageous as you are. Sometimes they want to be braver. Get educated about storms especially if you or a loved one fears storms. You'll be less likely to mistake the sky from falling and leading others to panic when you're educated. The local NWS stations should have listings of storm spotter training courses on their website. If there are not any classes this link will help you get a better understanding of how severe storms work to create tornadoes. Another website to watch is the Storm Prediction Center. This website gives outlooks to where the most damaging storms are expected to be, as well as watches and warnings. Knowing about severe storms is half the battle when combating fear and anxiety.

Secondly, make a plan and tell the residents of your home, family, and neighbors. If a tornado hits and you're trapped inside the basement of your house, then others will be able to help find you faster. Communication is important, but so is the plan. Questions to ask yourself is, what are the prevailing winds on majority of the storms producing severe weather in your neighborhood? Plan to be in the corner of the basement that the storms come from. Then again, this is if you do have a basement. In the Midwest, a fair amount of people have basements in their homes. However, there are those in apartment complexes that do not. What is your leasing office's or landlord's advice for protecting you and your family? In other parts of the country basements do not exist. The NWS and emergency services center have this to say about building a plan. Where the CDC has great ideas for making a plan, I have some other helpful tips.

Create a bug out bag, or BOB. Plan for a week of 'vacation' in a bag for everyone in the house. Keep this in your basement, fall out shelter, or a place you can get at easily and quickly. Chances are that if your house is destroyed your clothing will be, too. So, will your other personal belongings. If you know severe weather is coming based on the news or information on the Storm Prediction Center website, then pack a bag of your irreplaceable family valuables, too. Place BOB and this bag in your shelter while you await the signs to move.

Power will be out for a while if caught up in a derecho, microburst, and/or tornado. Plan for a back up energy sources. Keeping food cool and cooking food are probably your biggest concern. Grills are great for cooking. There are no better tools than a cooler and a few pounds of dry ice. Last year, Lake in the Hills, IL, experienced a derecho leaving them without power for almost two weeks in the dead of summer. The grocery store I worked for was constantly out of dry ice. We even had lines to buy more. Dry ice is cooler than any ice you can buy, which is why when touched with bare skin you will get a burn. It is a super cold gas. Do not put dry ice in with regular ice because it will exhaust the dry ice faster because it will try to cool the regular ice to its temperature. Only few had the money to purchase a generator. Those were scarce as well. Cell phones are nice, but they are an option, not a necessity. You may want to pick up a landline phone that does not require electricity to use as a back up for communication. If you are without power for long periods of time and need a cell phone because it is your only source of communication, seek out community centers that allow you to plug in for free or charge it at work. Be sure to stock up on batteries, candles, matches, and board games to keep the fun alive. Don't forget the 9V batteries for your alarm clocks. To have a cool house without a/c, close the windows and keep the sun out with sheets during the day. At night open windows and move the sheet curtains to let the cool night air flow through the house. If you have to select which rooms need to be cooler than others use sheets or curtains to cover the doorways. It will help keep out the heat and keep in the cool.

There are many more little wisdoms to be shared. It's amazing what you will learn if you're forced to improvised when modern machines fail.

I hope that this gives everyone something to remember this May and many Mays to come.

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