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#72097 - 08/27/06 06:30 PM Tornado area preparedness
texasboots Offline

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 34
Hello all,

We recently moved to Mckinney Texas from Florida and have concerns about our lack of tornado preparedness. I am a Florida native so I know how to prepare for hurricanes, and if it looks bad, get out of there. Well in our area we have no Hurricane risk but we are located at the bottom of Tornado alley. What if anything can I do to prepare my family for a tornado? We have an emergency radio that we use but that's about it.

Any advice from locals would be appreciated. We don't have a tornado shelter, should we?


#72098 - 08/27/06 09:15 PM Re: Tornado area preparedness
redflare Offline

Registered: 12/25/05
Posts: 647
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Here is a litte something to get you started.
Tornadoes information

#72099 - 08/27/06 10:05 PM Re: Tornado area preparedness
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
If you don't have shelter and get hit, you won't have anything.

Back in the 80's, a man called Nader Khalili designed a clever type of shelter with just two sticks & a string, a shovel, some sandbags, and a roll of barbed wire. Covered with soil and planted with something with an excellent root system (like clover), it seems that it would be a good way to cheat tornadoes.

Decide how large you want your shelter, which is circular. Ten feet in diameter? Use the string to tie the two sticks 5 feet apart. Jam one firmly into the ground and scratch a circle in the soil with the other one (or use chalk or garden lime).

Start digging inside the circle. As you dig, fill the sandbags. Set the sandbags just outside the circle, end to end. Lay two lengths of barbed wire on top of each stack of sandbags, several inches apart (the wire helps keep the bags from shifting as you build). Stack the bags like you would bricks, in a running bond. Gradually start laying the sandbags just slightly inside each previous layer, as you will be forming a dome. Don't forget to leave a doorway, frame it with wood. There will be no windows.

When you're finished, part of the shelter will be underground, part will be above ground. I would add at least a foot of soil over the whole thing.

See Khalili's CalEarth site for some photos of similar shelters, although the ones shown are all above ground:

They are also earthquake-stable.


#72100 - 08/27/06 10:33 PM Re: Tornado area preparedness
Simon Offline

Registered: 04/24/06
Posts: 398
Loc: Tennessee
Just prepare like you expect to get hit:

My parents have lived in the same house in West Tennessee for nearly 30 years. In March of this year, a tornado took their back yard out leaving the house with minor damage. Parents were unharmed. Destroyed alot of other property though on the 11 acres the house sits on. They were in the basement when the typical description of what sounded like a "freight train" went by. People never think it will happen to them, but it can.

Me, a vegetarian? My set of teeth came with canines.

#72101 - 08/28/06 02:22 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3672
Loc: TX

Welcome to equipped and welcome to Texas. We live just north of Houston and see a scary number of tornados in the area. Unfortunately, I still haven't figured out the best was to protect ourselves from them. The lack of a basement sucks. The water table is only about five feet down here so any hole in the ground has it's own set of problems. The only area in our house that isn't loaded with windows is the interior staircase. However, our hot water heater sits in the attic directly above this staircase. <img src="/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> I'm scared of it crashing downon us.

Our current plan pretty much is pray or maybe hide in a vehicle in the garage. I'd love to fill the walls of our utility room with concrete, but DW hasn't been sold on that plan yet...

Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
DrMerriwether on YouTube
Radio Call Sign: KI5BOG
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#72102 - 08/28/06 02:37 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
texasboots Offline

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 34
Thanks for the info everyone. We have a large closet under the staircase that I am thinking of making into a "wind safe room". I will be sure to post pictures of the transformation. I was looking in the closet just now and mentioned to my wife that we need to clean it out so we will have room. She said, "Thats why your fencing equipment is in there, I'll make the kids wear those masks! <img src="/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

#72103 - 08/28/06 02:47 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Ohhh... This should be adaptable to all kinds of locals. I'm not sure I'd want to be in one in an earthquake, but they say it is. *shrugs* Other than that, this should be able to handle anything that doesn't involve flooding.

Thanks, Susan

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#72104 - 08/28/06 03:15 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
Lance_952 Offline

Registered: 06/25/06
Posts: 106
In the part of Kansas I live in some of the farms have what look like septic tanks that sit above ground for a shelter, they are out side the home but it's better then nothing.

#72105 - 08/28/06 06:01 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
Raspy Offline

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Centre Hall Pa
When in danger or in doubt
run in circles scream and shout

And always remember TANSTAAFL

#72106 - 08/28/06 06:05 AM Re: Tornado area preparedness
beadles Offline

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 105
Loc: Richardson, TX
Welcome to the area! The National Weather Service holds annual open storm spotter training sessions, but you missed the one for this year. Next one will probably be in January, but there is plenty of material online. First, here is the local NWS link:

Here is a link to storm spotter training:

The place to get advance prediction of severe weather is the Storm Prediction Center, at:

If you have the interest in finding out what is going on during a storm, the Collin County Amateur Radio Emergency Service holds storm spotter nets on 147.18MHz and sometimes 146.74MHz. If you should just happen to be interested in Ham Radio, track down the McKinney Amateur Radio Club.

John Beadles, N5OOM
Richardson, TX

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