How to Prepare for a Tornado

As Oklahomans, we live in tornado alley, and as storm season approaches, it’s critical to know how to prepare. Tornadoes can occur suddenly and they can be destructive, so knowing how to prepare and what to do can help you and your loved ones stay safe. As tornado season begins, consider these ways when creating your safety-preparedness plan.

Set and Inform Your Plan

To ensure you and your family are safe, you can create a “what to do if a tornado hits” plan. This plan could include where to take shelter, who is responsible for gathering food and supplies, where to locate the radio and batteries and more. If you’re unsure about the security of your home, you may consider adding a storm shelter. Having your household on the same page can help ensure you react in a timely manner. 

Carl looking at tornado damage done on his farm

Create a Checklist and Store Necessities 

Creating a checklist and storing some basic items can help you stay on track and not forget any critical items. Be sure to include: 

  • Batteries
  • Weather radio
  • Cell phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • Food
  • A fun game or coloring pages to keep the little ones or even yourself entertained

Know the Warning Signs

Luckily, we have the technology and the National Weather Service to warn us if a tornado is developing and headed our way. However, it is always good to know the warning signs if there is a chance of a tornado. 

  • Hail or heavy rain followed by fast and intense winds or followed by eerie quiet and calm 
  • Loud rumbling that could sound like thunder, but is continuous. Some describe it as sounding like a freight train
  • If the sky begins to look dark and green
  • A cloud of debris, even if it doesn’t resemble a funnel
  • A funnel-shaped cloud

“I stepped outside before the tornado actually got there, and I could hear it coming but couldn’t tell how far away it was. Well, of course it went right through, real fast. After it settled down, I peeped outside the window and walked outside, and saw the cars were crushed,” said Billy Gibson, one of our policyholders. Watch how OKFB helped Billy after a tornado hit his home.

Learn the Weather Terms

Two notable terms to know are tornado watch and tornado warning. A tornado watch signifies that the current weather is capable of producing a tornado. While a tornado warning signifies that one has been sighted or seen on a radar. If a tornado warning is issued, you are highly advised to seek shelter. Understanding this difference can help you know what to do. 

As you create plans and checklists, remember to check-in with your OKFB agent to ensure your home and vehicles are protected under your Home Insurance and Auto Insurance policies. You focus on staying safe and prepared, and we’ll worry about protecting your assets. 

What to Do When in a Car Accident

Whether you just got your license or have been driving for years, it is important to know what to do if the unexpected – a car accident – happens. Knowing what to do after being in a car accident can help ensure the right party is held accountable and that your vehicle is covered. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do if you get in a car accident. Be sure to bookmark this for future reference!

Step 1: Stay Calm 

  • It can be easy to feel angry at the other driver. However, it’s important to not escalate the situation and it’s critical to stay calm and collected. Take a breath, assess your situation and determine if you need to exit your vehicle. 

Step 2: Contact Your Local Police Department (911, if an emergency)

  • If the accident is minor and no one is injured, contact the local police department. The authorities will document the scene and ensure important details are noted. These details will help when you are filing a claim with your insurance company.

Step 3: Don’t Admit Fault

  • It’s important to not apologize for the situation or admit that you were the cause of the accident. There could be factors that you aren’t aware of, and the authorities and insurance company will ultimately decide the responsible party. 

Step 4: Document the Scene and Exchange Information

  • The authorities will take note of the details, but it is important for you to have the other driver’s information too. For instance, take photos of both cars (or more, if involved), license plates and makes and models of the vehicle(s).
  • Along with having photos of the scene, it is important to exchange information with the impacted parties. Some information to collect:
    • Name of the driver(s)
    • Driver’s license number and state they reside in
    • Driver’s insurance information
    • Contact information of any eyewitnesses
    • Date, time and location of the car accident
    • Name and badge number of the responding police officer 

Step 5: Relocate Your Vehicle 

  • If you aren’t able to drive your car after the accident, you will want to have your vehicle towed. As an OKFB member, you have access to Roadside Rescue. With Roadside Rescue, you have some access to free towing services. 

Step 6: Be Aware of How You Are Feeling

  • An adrenaline rush is common after being in a car accident, and could lead you to believe you are not injured. Be mindful of how you feel and see a doctor if needed. 

Step 7: Contact Your Insurance Agent or Company

  • Now it is time to file an auto claim. Ensure you have all the information you collected and a copy of the police report, so you can share it with your insurance company. 

Along with knowing what to do if you get in a car accident, it’s good to ensure your auto policy has the coverage you need. Contact your OKFB agent today and discuss if your Auto Insurance policy has the appropriate coverage. 

6 Ways to Prepare for an Ice Storm

Snow and ice can be a pretty sight in small doses, but Oklahoma is no stranger to heavy ice storms. You can help ensure minimal impacts to your property by following these six ways to prepare for an ice storm. Check out these tips:

1. Prepare an Emergency Home Kit

Severe ice storms can cause road closures as well as city-wide power outages, thus leaving you situated in your home for a potential long period of time. It could be helpful to have an emergency home kit with the necessities that could include things like:

  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Candles 
  • Canned goods and no-cook foods/snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Medication and first aid kit 
  • Blankets
  • Warm winter clothing and accessories
  • Emergency radio 

2. Have Tools on Standby

Too much ice or snow could trap you inside your home, so having a crowbar, axe, chiseling tool or shovel could aid in making a path to escape. Additionally, having tools nearby could be helpful for making any quick repairs. For instance, closing a small hole to stop the cold from filling your home. Remember to stay warm or find shelter if the damages are dangerous. 

3. Check on Pipes & Gutters 

As fall winds down and winter begins, take time to clear out rain gutters, repair roof leaks, and check the roof to make sure it can handle the extra weight of snow and ice. You’ll also need to insulate water pipes or faucets with winter covers on the exterior of the home. Allowing faucets to drip or trickle during cold weather or if the power/heat are out can also help avoid freezing pipes. When water freezes, it expands, and this can cause water pipes to burst. Know how and where to shut off water valves if a pipe bursts.

4. Watch Out for Trees

Trees lose limbs and leaves annually, and they also grow wider and bigger annually. Thus it is important to inspect trees before winter and to remove any branches that could fall on a house, powerline, car or other structure. After the storm, it’s also important to be careful around trees. Ice can accumulate and cause limbs to snap and fall down. For your safety, watch out for trees when walking around the property or shoveling ice out of the driveway.

5. Be Mindful About Carbon Monoxide 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is dangerous and there can be a heightened possibility for it after an ice storm. You’ll need to check and clear out the areas where your furnace and other vents are located, in case ice or snow start to block the vents. If the power does go out, remember to turn off anything that runs on gas or propane. To receive an early warning if carbon monoxide does become present, install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in the home. 

6. Save Water, Then More Water

One way to save water is by filling bathtubs, sinks and kitchen pots with water before the power goes out. Water is necessary for staying hydrated, and it can also help you operate your home in many other ways. It could give a toilet enough pressure to flush and even for hygienic purposes such as brushing your teeth and cleaning. 

As you take steps to prepare your home for an ice storm this winter, remember to contact your OKFB Insurance agent and review your Home Insurance policy. Insurance claims are an important part of recovering from storm damage. Review your homeowners, renters, or business insurance policies to ensure you have appropriate coverage for your property and personal belongings. Photograph and inventory your property to assist with post-disaster claims.

Holiday Travel Tips

The holiday spirit is in full swing and with it comes spending time with loved ones and enjoying the peace as the year begins to wind down. If you have plans to visit family or friends, consider these travel tips, whether you’re road-tripping or flying this holiday season. 

Focus on Scheduling

The end of the year can get quite hectic. Planning ahead is crucial for staying sane and avoiding feeling overwhelmed. One thing to remember is that the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve are the most heavily traveled days of the year. If possible, schedule your travel for several days before and several days after the holidays to save money and time by avoiding peak road and air traffic.

Prioritize Disinfectants and Sanitizers

Regardless of if you’re driving or flying, it’s important to travel with a supply of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Winter is peak flu, cold and virus season so you’ll want to take steps to ward off these germs. Aim to wipe down high-touch surfaces, like car doors, seat belts and armrests, and remember to clean off hands before eating or touching your eyes, mouth or nose. 

Don’t Forget These Items

  • Passport – Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at the airport and realizing you don’t have your passport. Put this at the top of your packing list! 
  • Important documents – This may be car insurance cards, health insurance cards, boarding passes, etc. Any documents that might be helpful in case of an emergency.
  • Snacks – Traveling takes lots of energy and time, so be prepared by having some snacks on hand for the whole family. A reusable water bottle is a good idea as well. 
  • Don’t forget to check under the hood and/or your flight information. It’s always a good idea to ensure your vehicle is good to go, and it never hurts to double-check flight times and terminals.

Protect Holiday Gifts

If your travel plans require bringing gifts along, it could be helpful to hold off on wrapping the gifts until after you’ve reached your destination. This could make packing easier and help the wrapping stay in good condition. Additionally, if flying, it might help to ship the package ahead of time to the end destination, so you have one less thing to worry about when traveling.

Stay safe this holiday season! If driving, contact your OKFB agent to make sure your auto insurance is updated. Additionally, check-in on your home insurance if you’re going to be gone for a while. All in all, we wish you all the best and hope you have a merry holiday!