Expert Advice on Preparing for Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Earthquakes

in Press Releases

While Oklahomans struggle to recover from the horrible tornado devastation, and Floridians prepare for a battering from the season’s first tropical storm, people across the country are once again reminded about the importance of being prepared.

Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family, says “Most Americans simply don’t appreciate that the United States experiences more dangerous weather than any other country in the world. It isn’t until winds are blowing and rain is pounding that they begin to think about their vulnerability. Unfortunately, by then, it is often too late.”

Dr. Bradley offers these valuable preparedness tips:


Hurricanes are particularly dangerous because they introduce five significant hazards: storm surge, marine safety, high winds, tornadoes, and inland flooding. Any one of these can cause considerable loss of life and damage to property. Together they represent a nearly worst-case scenario that requires extensive preparations.

  1. Secure the castle. Evaluate the structural integrity of the roof, windows, doors, and garage door. Consider making improvements, such as hurricane straps, truss bracing, and gable end bracing. Install storm shutters or precut 5/8-inch plywood to fit the windows. In addition to structural improvements, cut back trees and bushes, secure and clean out gutters and downspouts, and carefully stock a structurally sound room to act as a wind-resistant shelter.
  2. Stay alert = Stay alive. If a hurricane warning is announced, close storm shutters or board up windows; cover skylights and glass doors. Monitor local news broadcasts for storm updates and road conditions. Gather keepsakes, valuables, and important papers on the highest level of the home, preferably in a waterproof container. Be ready to evacuate if ordered to do so by authorities.
  3. Hunker down. When the hurricane arrives, the primary goal is to stay safe. Keep away from windows and glass doors. Close curtains and blinds to help protect from flying glass and other debris. Secure and brace external doors. Close all interior doors. Retreat to the shelter, making sure that it is well stocked with flashlights, batteries, water, snacks, a first aid kit, pillows and blankets, a cell phone, and some games for the kids.


On average, the US experiences about 800 tornadoes each year! Since 1950, they have caused more than 6,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries. Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes, but they can last more than a full hour. The size and unpredictability of tornadoes make it hard to get out of their way. More often than not, families are forced to hunker down and try to ride out the event.

  1. Keep an eye out. Use everything available to closely track the path of tornadoes, including a NOAA Weather Radio, local broadcasts, internet websites, and personal observations. Don’t take any unnecessary risks!
  2. Seek shelter. If a tornado warning is issued, or if danger is believed to be impending, immediately seek shelter. Make no attempt to equalize pressures by opening windows, as that has been proven to be completely ineffective. The optimum retreat is an underground storm shelter, basement, or cellar. If a home doesn’t have an underground retreat, the next best location is in a small interior closet or bathroom, perhaps under the stairs or in another structurally sound area of the home. The retreat should be pre-stocked with basic supplies (see list below).
    • Blankets and pillows
    • Battery-operated NOAA weather radio
    • Flashlights
    • Spare batteries
    • Cell phone
    • First aid kit
    • Leather gloves
    • Disposable respirators
    • Snacks and bottled water
    • Whistles
    • Cards, games, books, etc.
    • Pet supplies (as needed)

  3. Soften the blow. Once in the shelter, sit or lie down and cover with blankets and pillows. Protective padding can help to minimize cuts and bruises from flying glass or structural debris. Issue whistles and dust masks to each person to facilitate rescue should the house collapse.


While the likelihood of earthquakes can be estimated for a given region, their actual occurrences are unpredictable with current technology and can occur almost anywhere in the world. Therefore, regardless of location, everyone should be familiar with proven protective measures.

  1. Batten down the hatches! Check for hazards in and near the home. Secure anything that might fall, including shelves, light fixtures, breakables, hot water heaters, and appliances. Install flexible lines to all gas appliances. Strengthen the home’s structure by bracing the chimney, sheathing the crawlspace with plywood, installing anchor bolts or plates between sill and foundation, and adding braces between beams and posts.
  2. Duck and cover. Most earthquake-related injuries are due to collapsing structures, not from the actual shaking. Identify safe places in and around the home and place of work, such as a sturdy piece of furniture or a well framed wall. Stay away from windows. If outdoors, find an open space and drop to the ground. Stay clear of buildings, trees, bridges, and electrical lines.
  3. Get everyone onboard. Ensure that adults know how to shut off the utilities and that children are practiced at calling 911. Conduct family drills, identifying safe spots, noting danger areas, and discussing post earthquake hazards, such as aftershocks, tsunamis, downed electrical wires, and gas leaks.

These, and many other, recommendations are found in the Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family. For more information on Dr. Bradley’s books, as well as his free preparedness newsletter, see

For more information, contact:

Arthur Bradley, Ph.D.

Phone: (757) 332-0829



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