Tag Archives: Tornado

Severe Weather Preparedness


Severe weather can happen at any time and it usually doesn’t check  with you first to make sure its coming at a convenient time. Therefore, it is beneficial to remind you of how important it is to have an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes.

If you have never thought about creating an emergency plan, a great place to start is www.ready.gov. This website will help you create a plan, and build and maintain a kit to prepare yourself for your greatest disaster risks.

Otherwise, I recently discovered an excellent blog, A Bowl Full of Lemons. The blog’s author, Toni Hammersly, wrote a blog series on Emergency Preparedness that goes step by step on how to prepare for an emergency and what to include in your emergency kit.

One item Toni says to include in your emergency kit is an Emergency Preparedness Binder. This binder will include photocopies, or better yet the originals, of all your important information. Possible documents to include are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Drivers License
  • Social Security Card
  • DD 214 (Military Record)
  • Advanced Medical Directive
  • Power of Attorney
  • Baptism Records
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Home Insurance Policy
  • Insurance Cards
  • Will or Trust
  • Deeds and Titles
  • Credit Cards (both sides)


TIP: If you use photocopies, specify where original documents came from (Example: Marriage Certificate came from Allegan County Courthouse).

Also, save a copy of all  documents included in the binder on a zip drive or saved 'in the cloud', such as with Dropbox.com.  Store your emergency binder in a water and fire proof safe that can be bolted down to the floor, such as this safe.


Other important information to include in your Emergency Preparedness Binder include:

  • Information about your family’s health records (especially those with special needs)
  • A family emergency plan
  • Insurance policies and phone numbers
  • Emergency phone numbers (Fire department, Gas, Electric Company, Police, Poison Control, etc)
  • Family phone numbers (closest relatives, neighbors, baby sitters, etc).


Toni encourages readers to start setting aside cash for your emergency fund. A smart plan is to save $2 per family member, per paycheck. Combine bills and coins, because in the event of a major disaster, electricity will most likely be out and credit cards wont work.


If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with everything that should go into your emergency binder, check out Toni’s blog, www.abowlfulloflemons.net. I encourage you to read through the eight week blog series about Emergency Preparedness and start creating your emergency plan. To help you get started, she sells an E-Book ($10) including the entire 8 week blog series, and Emergency Binder printables.


The E-Book includes:

  • Checklist for setting up your storage area
  • Food & Water Storage Guide
  • 72 Hour Kit Checklist
  • First Aid Kit Inventory
  • First Aid Kit Printable
  • Important Documents & Cash Stash Checklist
  • “Grab” in case of emergency list
  • List of personal documents to place in Emergency Binder
  • Family Emergency Plan Printable
  • Insurance Policies Printable
  • Family Health Information Printable
  • Emergency Numbers Printable
  • Important Numbers Printable
  • Supplies Tips
  • EmergencySupplies Checklist
  • Faraday Cage Directions
  • Hygiene & Pet Kit Sheet
  • Hygiene List
  • Pet Kit Checklist
  • Comfort Kit Checklist
  • Fun Kit Checklist
  • and more!


Don’t forget to include a copy of your home inventory list! This can be written or via photos or video.

Fairdale, IL Tornado

View this aftermath photo from a tornado that struck the town of Fairview, IL on April 9, 2015. Put yourself in that situation. Think about how difficult it would be to sift through the debris to locate all of your important documents and to communicate to your insurance agent all that you own for your claim settlement. Hmmm…make your life easier in preparation for any loss and complete a home inventory.


*NOTE: Reno Agency is in no way affiliated with A Bowl Full of Lemons nor do we receive any compensation for sales of their E-Book. We just feel they are a great resource to share with our readers.

 Photo of Amber Whitman

About the Author: Amber Whitman is the marketing consultant for the Reno Agency.


Reducing Tornado Damage


It’s that time of the year again…when the risk of a tornado increases. Many in West Michigan experienced damaging storms this past weekend with sustained winds rivaling an EF-0 (75-85 mph). Many thought it had to have been a tornado that ripped through Muskegon and Northern Kent Counties, but it was confirmed to be strong straight line winds by the National Weather Service. Nevertheless, this strong Spring storm produced widespread damage and left about 100,000 without power.


Muskegon Airport April 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Fox 17 News
Muskegon Airport April 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Fox 17 News


About 1,000 tornadoes occur each year in the United States, causing an average of 80 deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage. Tornadoes vary in intensity and the accompanying damage can result in everything from minor repairs to complete destruction. Most tornadoes are relatively weak and therefore primarily damage roofs, windows and trees. While only 2% of tornadoes achieve the most violent and damaging classification (EF5), 25% of tornadoes are powerful enough to cause 67% of the deaths and 90% of the damage. An EF5 tornado can generate maximum wind speeds of greater than 250 mph, which is enough to destroy most buildings and structures in its path. These maximum wind speeds generate forces that are about twice as strong as those generated by the strongest hurricanes.


Watches and Warnings

A tornado watch is a caution indicating a high probability of tornadoes within an area approximately 250 miles long and 120 miles wide.


A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted on the ground in your county or is moving toward your county, or that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado existing.


While the following precautions focus specifically on tornado risks, many will also help protect those of you who live outside of tornado-prone regions from other types of high wind and thunderstorm-related weather risks.


Assess the Likelihood of a Tornado Striking Your Area

Is the area where you live and work prone to tornadoes? Knowing what tornado risks are present is essential for choosing the appropriate mix of measures to protect you and your family. If you are located in an area with a heightened tornado risk, you should review the following steps and take the necessary precautions to minimize your risk of tornado damage:


Protect Your Family and Employees

– Prepare and disseminate an emergency plan describing what everyone should do when a tornado threatens. Practice these procedures through tornado drills.

– Purchase a weather radio with local discrimination capability. Monitor weather conditions so everyone can be moved to secure locations when necessary.

– Have an adequate source of weather information, such as a tone alert weather radio, to keep abreast of weather conditions.

– Have someone monitor local radar and warning information during a tornado watch and especially if a tornado warning has been issued for the area.

– Keep exterior doors and windows closed to minimize rain and flying debris. Closing interior doors will also help to compartmentalize the building and provide more barriers between occupants and the storm.

– Select the best protective area for everyone to seek shelter. Basements are usually considered a good area, as are corridors and small interior rooms on the first floor of a structure.

– Never shelter anyone in rooms where there is an outside wall, particularly those with glass windows, or where the ceiling or roof has a span between supports of more than 40 feet.

– If your building does not provide adequate protection and you are located in a tornado-prone area, work with a contractor to harden a section of your facility or build a safe room.

*Safe Rooms: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and International Code Council (ICC) offer shelter guidelines.

– Make provisions to shelter everyone in portable outbuildings and those operating trucks and other vehicles off premises.

Protect Your Property

Wind-resistant construction can be cost effective and minimize the risk of structural damage for the majority of tornadoes, particularly damage from weak to moderate tornadoes, hail and wind associated with thunderstorms, and even to buildings on the edge of strong or violent tornadoes.

Minimize the Threats From Wind-Borne Debris

– Identify and remove trees and branches that could fall on your buildings or power lines.

– Inspect and repair loose or damaged building components such as siding, soffit and fascia, shingles and roofing, brickwork, and brick chimneys.

– Avoid using built-up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface.

For further information on tornadoes, safe rooms and more, visit the website: www.DisasterSafety.org/tornado

Don’t Fear Your Insurance Company When Disaster Strikes

Grange Insurance Hi Res VersionWith storm season here, Grange Insurance reminds families independent agents are here to help.

Spring weather means dusting off your sandals and gardening equipment, and spending more time outside enjoying the sunshine. But for many in the Midwest, it also means the beginning of a harsher weather forecast – tornado season.

Those who have the potential to face a tornado this spring need to be prepared so they can ensure their own safety, their family’s safety, and the safety of their finances and personal property. Columbus, Ohio-based Grange Insurance offers tips to prepare for and get through the worst should a tornado hit.


1. Prepare a plan, and practice together.

Develop a tornado plan, and hold regular drills so your family is ready in the event of severe weather.

“Know a safe place where you can take shelter away from windows,” said John Ammendola, president of personal lines, Grange Insurance. “Store supplies in that area, such as flashlights, a radio, protective coverings, non-perishable food items and batteries.”

As a final part of the plan, make sure to designate a family meeting spot where all should gather after the storm in case of separation.


2. Call your independent agent as soon as possible.

The first thing on your mind is likely the safety of your family. Once you’ve made sure everyone is safe, call your independent agent. Be sure to have your policy number and details regarding the damage ready when you call.

“Though it may be a difficult moment, your independent agent is there to help and make sure that you get the proper claim reimbursement from the damage caused during the storm,” said Ammendola. “When you speak with your agent, work with him or her to make a list of all the damaged items you’ve identified.”

“Following a tornado, salvaging undamaged items will also help protect your property from further damage, once local authorities determine your house is safe to enter,” said Ammendola.


3. Communication is a two-way street.

Though your agent is not a medical or law enforcement authority, he or she has experience dealing with natural disasters, and is there to help you through it even before you call.

“We have outpost and claims centers which make it easier to come to you quickly,” said Ammendola. “in the meantime, take advantage of social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, if you need help locating missing loved ones or friends.”

According to Ammendola, Grange uses specialized mapping technology to pinpoint where the concentration of damage occurred. The carrier sends alerts to independent agents in the area to contact their policyholders. Often, agents are on-site or have called customers even before the policyholder has had a chance to contact his or her agent.

“It is also important to remember that communication is a two-way street,” said Ammendola. “Just as an independent agent will work quickly to respond to your claims, you should respond to claim inquiries as soon as possible. This will ensure your claim is handled quickly, and the process to rebuild or repair is started immediately.”


4. Keep your receipts.

If your house is unlivable following a storm, temporary housing is a must. Depending on your policy, your independent agent may be able to assist you so the burden doesn’t rest on your pockets.

“Keep receipts for all expenses you incur while in temporary housing,” said Ammendola. “Your homeowners and auto insurance policies likely cover the cost of hotel rooms, meals, clothing, auto rental, and personal items, depending on the level of damage. If you’re unsure what your policy covers, now is a good time as any to call your agent to make sure your have the proper level of coverage before a tornado strikes.”

For more information about disaster recovery and claims, visit www.grangeinsurance.com or call your independent agent today.


*Don’t forget about the Tornado App brought to you by the American Red Cross. Read about it here in a previous post.


About Grange

Grange Insurance, with $2 billion in assets and in excess of $1 billion in annual revenue, is an insurance provider based in Columbus, Ohio. Through its network of independent agents, Grange offers auto, home, life and business insurance protection. Established in 1935, the company and its affiliates serve policyholders in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Fore more information, visit www.grangeinsurance.com.



Check It Out: New Tornado App Released






Posted March 04, 2013 , Michigan on http://www.redcross.org/news/article/New-Tornado-App-Released-Western-Michigan

The American Red Cross has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit, or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app—available in English and Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Cheryl Bremer, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of West Michigan. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives – even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.”

Other features of the app include:

  • Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;
  • Enhanced weather maps;
  • One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;
  • Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

“The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Bremer.

Mobile activity soared due to Superstorm Sandy:

  • More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App;
  • Nearly 6 million NOAA weather alerts were sent;
  • Preparedness content was the most popular feature of the app followed by alerts and the shelter locator;
  • The average time spent using the app increased 300 percent; and
  • The app had 15 million page views.

Right after the storm, the Hurricane App was updated with real-time recovery information including Red Cross shelter and feeding sites, FEMA sites, open gas stations and warming centers to help those affected by the storm.

The Tornado App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/take-a-class for course information and to register.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.