Category Archives: Emergency

Storm Spotter Class

I just finished a 3.5 hour class to become a trained/certified storm spotter in St. Louis. It’s a great class for anyone to take.

Jim Kramper led the class and did an excellent job. I recommend you try and get him as an instructor the next time a class is held.

Here is where you can see the schedule.


Weather in St.Louis

Weather Spotter’s Field Guide– this is mainly what they covered in class.

Ready in 3 – Resources and Tools


Below are some notes I took which might be interesting to others.

  • As a storm spotter you get a unique ID so that when you do a report, they know you are trained and where you are located.
  • Funnel Cloud = no debris on the ground – just the shape in the air.
  • Tornado = touching the ground and/or debris in the air.
  • Hail – pea=1/4″, marble = 1/2″, penny = 3/4″, nickel = 7/8″, quarter = 1″.
  • Major League Baseball doesn’t stop the games before a storm hits. It waits until the storm hits and it’s raining. You may want to be proactive and when you get a Warning, take action on your own to protect yourself and your family.

A Tornado Is Coming – What Do I Do?

Here is a speech I gave on October 24, 2012.Hopefully you will find it useful and might save your life. Here’s the link with my list of 74 emergency items.

Contingency Day

This topic is not for the squeamish, but one which everyone has to face – DEATH.

If you accept this reality, then one of the things that the bill-payer in the family can do is create a folder labeled “Contingency Day.”

That’s where you keep all the documents that your spouse/heirs will need to keep going or get your affairs in order.

The Wall Street Journal has written a good article about this along with the picture below.

Here are the links:

Safe Room for Tornadoes etc.

For the last two years, St. Louis has had many bad storms, multiple tornado watches and warnings, and two actual tornadoes. One of the tornadoes came withing 600 yards of our house. When the NOAA weather radio goes off or the TV forecasts show dangerous weather, my wife and I are frequently grabbing our “stuff” and heading for the basement.

While we certainly feel safer in our basement, when I saw a recent story of a woman losing both her legs when she was in the basement during a tornado, I realized that we could still do something to make us safer.

I decided to make a room underneath our basement stairs. Actually I hired Mike Thibadeau who did the job better and quicker than I could. Here’s what we did.

There were already dry-walled 2 x 4’s on both sides of the stairs, so we attached 3/4″ plywood on the inside with construction screws. Mike also lifted up the plywood by 1/2″ so that it wouldn’t wick water from the concrete.

He then put in a solid wood door (fire door) that he cut down by about a foot. He also installed the door so that it would open by swinging in. The idea is that after a storm there may be debris blocking your way out and you could possibly be trapped in the room if you couldn’t open the door.

Mike put a regular door handle on the door, but I’ll be installing a deadbolt soon. I’m also going to finish the outside so it looks a bit more finished.

While this room might not be 100% safe, I certainly feel safer than sitting out in the open in the middle of the basement.

Notes: Here are a  few further notes and observations about the room. Look at the graphic.below

1. The basement floor is not level, thus when I shut the door, it almost touches the floor. I’m concerned that with a tornado, the door frame will twist and I will be stuck in the room. Note – I have cut off more of the door at the bottom to give me more of a safety margin.

2. Another safety measure is hanging a nail by the door frame which I can use to take out the hinges from below. Note – I’ll have a hammer and screwdriver  in my tool box.

3. I’m also going to run an extension cord to the room to get some basic electricity to the room.

Safe Room Ideas

There are three possible scenarios for using a my safe room.

1. Bad storm/tornado.
In this situation, I could have slight damage to total devastation of my house.
While the path of the tornado could be widespread, there will be resources availalbe
within a week or less to help me and others recover.

I will need enough resources to help me survive for 72 hours at most.This 3 day supply needs to be in the safe room.

I need 3 day – food and water plus money, personal papers, clothing, and regular survival gear.

Set of clothes/coat/shoes on a hangar.

I expect to to lose everything in my house except for my safe room area.

2. Earthquake.

If this is a large area wide earthquake, then I am not expecting terrible damage to my house.
While other brick structures might be toppled, I’m not expecting that for myself.
While I may lose power, gas and water, my house should be intact.

I should have access to all of the regular resources in my house.

I should still have plenty of water and food in the basement.
3. Unknown Catastrophe.



For information on safe room demonstrations through MU Extension, contact Eric Evans at (573) 884-8984. – get under stairs
note – Stud wall with 2 layers of ¾ in. CD grade plywood with 16 ga. metal on non-impact side – no perforation. (I think they recommend 14 ga. steel now.)


CERT Bag Contents

I received my CERT bag last night – here’s what is inside.

Hard Hat – Vest – Gloves – Dust Mask – Emergency Blanket – Rubber gloves – Whistle – Door marker – Multipurpose-tool – Gas turn off tool – Goggles, Wrench – Duct Tape – First aid kit – Light sticks – Flashlight.


Emergency Training – Class #2

CERT Class #2 Notes – Emergency Preparedness

Have an Emergency Kit – here’s mine.

Learn how to text-message. Regular phone service might not work, but you might be able to get a text message through.

They recommend a weeks worth of food + 1 gal water per person per day.

Tornado sirens are for people who are outside. Buy a weather emergency radio for inside.

Tie your water heater down. Use flexible gas lines where allowed.

Childproof locks on cabinets. In earthquakes a lot of items will fall out unless the cabinets can be kept closed.

Tall items should be attached to wall.

In California, some people velcro the TV base to withstand earthquakes.

Locate and label – gas and water shut-offs.

Shoes and flashlight under the bed.

Earthquake – drop, cover and hold – get under something heavy. Don’t try to run outside.

Tornado Notes

Center of basement, away from windows and under a stairway is probably the best option. Note – I’m going to make this into my “Safe Room.”

Class #3 Notes below

Fires – 5 Second rule – if you can’t get a fire out in 5 seconds, you need to leave the building and get help. Aim at the base of the fire.

You want to buy an ABC fire extinguisher. They are rated as to how effective they can put out different types of fires. A 4A extinguisher is four times as powerful as a 1A. The smaller extinguishers are 1A and the larger 10 pound are 4A. The larger extinguishers will only last 15 to 20 seconds, remember the 5 second rule, but they are more powerful.

Have a tool to turn off the gas coming into the house, but be aware that only the gas company is authorized to turn the gas back on.

To turn off electricity, start with small circuits first and then pull main breakers. To turn electricity back on, put in main breaker first, then add circuits one at a time.

Feel the door before entering a room in case of fire. If the door is hot, don’t open it.

Class K fires – Don’t use an ABC fire extinguisher on a cooking oil fire. Cover the oil with a lid or a damp towel. You  can also buy a kitchen fire extinguisher which you can use on oil fires. Amazon has one for $23.


Emergency Training – Class #1

I’m taking CERT training at the local firehouse and thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned.

1. Have an out of state emergency contact person. Your family would know to contact that person in case they can’t get hold of you.

2. Texting might have a better chance of getting through than regular phone calls.

3. The only way out of St. Louis that doesn’t involve going over a bridge is Manchester Rd.

After a Disaster:

  • Assess your own situation and make sure you’ve taken of your safety needs.
  • Clear the roads. Emergency and responders need to be able to get to the victims.  Nails have stopped a lot of emergency vehicles