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. 

Defining Insurance Jargon

Insurance has your back by ensuring your assets are covered, but insurance jargon can often get in the way of you clearly understanding your policy. To help make sense of your insurance policy, here are 10 common insurance terms that could help when both reviewing policies or speaking with your agent.  

Line(s) of Insurance: A class of type of insurance e.g. home insurance, auto insurance, commercial insurance, etc. 

  • Example: Charles has two lines of insurance with OKFB: Auto Insurance and Farm & Ranch Insurance.

Deductible: A specified amount of money that a policyholder must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim. 

  • Example: Esther has to pay a deductible of $300. After she pays her deductible, OKFB will pay the remainder of the claim that is stated in her policy.

Claim: A request or demand for payment from an insurance carrier, as defined in the policy.

  • Example: Carl and Robert filed a claim after a tornado impacted their car and farm. See how Billy and the rest of our team immediately worked to fulfill it here.

Coverage: The extent an item or property is insured in the event of an accident. 

  • Example: Daniel got a full coverage auto insurance policy with OKFB, so he is covered in the event that he is in an accident. 

Umbrella Coverage: Provides higher limits of protection against bodily injury or property damage claims by a third party. 

  • Example: After careful consideration, Anthony decided that umbrella coverage would offer greater protection and peace of mind.

Risk: The chances a loss could potentially occur. 

  • Example: Christie carefully explained the risks associated with lower coverage insurance policies, so I opted for more coverage. 

Policy: The contract between a policyholder and insurance carrier. 

  • Example: Lauren has an auto insurance policy with OKFB Insurance, so OKFB insures her vehicle in the case of an accident.

Premium: Cost an insurer sets for the coverage listed in an insurance policy.  

  • Example: Marco’s premium for his homeowner insurance is $1,200, so he pays $100 every month. 

Quote: An estimate of premium for a specific line of insurance/policy. 

  • Example: Ashley just bought a new home and was looking for the best coverage on Home Insurance, so she used OKFB’s Instant Homeowners Quote to find OKFB’s prices.

Dwelling: A place of residence, e.g. a home, mobile home, etc. 

  • Example: After talking to my agent, I got Dwelling Fire Insurance on my vacation home in Broken Bow. 

Check out our glossary for more common insurance terms. If you have any questions or want further clarification about an insurance term contact your OKFB agent. Also, don’t forget to check in regularly with your agent to ensure your coverage is up to date. We’re here to help you through the unexpected.

Safety Tips for Severe Weather

A storm can be thrilling to watch, but knowing when to take action and seek shelter could save your life in the case of a severe storm. As we go through another storm season, keep these safety and awareness tips top of mind when bracing for severe weather. 

Understand Storm Alerts 

Weather services label storms with a “watch” or “warning” to describe the potential threat to an area. A “watch” means conditions could potentially lead to the development of a storm. A “warning” means a storm has already developed and has been spotted nearby. Most times, a warning warrants taking shelter immediately. 

When assigning watches and warnings, the National Weather Service typically uses county names to inform people of the location. This means that knowing the name of your county and surrounding counties will be helpful in identifying when a storm may be approaching your area. 

Prepare your Home 

There are many precautions you can take to protect and prepare your home for storm season. Consider the following preparations if a severe storm prediction is in your area and you have time: 

  • Identify your sheltering place. If you don’t have a storm shelter, take cover in an interior room with no windows that is on the ground level. 
  • Charge your phones and computers before the storm is near in case you lose power.
  • Bring the pets inside to ensure their safety.
  • Bring in any outdoor furniture that could be blown around or damaged. 
  • Close and shutter windows.
  • Unplug high-dollar appliances and computers in case of a power surge. 
  • Have an emergency plan and ensure all members of the household are aware of it. 

Stock up on Supplies

Make sure to have non-perishable emergency supplies, like batteries, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a portable weather radio and a three-day supply of water and food. While you’re stocking up on emergency supplies, it’s also beneficial to compile a grocery list of non-perishable food. One can never be sure of the extent of damage a storm may cause, so being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best case. 

What to Avoid

Avoid using corded phones, electrical equipment, and even doing the dishes or taking a shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through lines, electrical systems and plumbing. According to the CDC, about one-third of injuries caused by a lightning strike happen indoors. Also, be sure to stay away from windows, doors and concrete walls or floors. Most are reinforced by metal bars or webbing, which could allow lightning to travel through. 

What to do During and After a Storm

As a storm is passing through, try to stay calm and alert. Make sure to take cover in your designated shelter if your area is under a warning. Be mindful that many facilities and hospitals will not be able to offer public shelter during severe weather at this time due to social distancing practices. Have a place in mind that you know you can access for safety. If your power goes out, use your phone or radio to listen for updates on the location and severity of the storm. 

After a storm passes, watch out for downed power lines, fallen tree branches and other debris that could be around. Once you’ve checked for damage and feel safe, be sure to check in on friends and loved ones that may have sustained damage as well. 

Preparing for storm season is the best thing you can do to ensure your safety. Talk to your agent to make sure your personal property is covered in the case of storm damage.