Civil Defense sirens went off tonight in Chicago alerting us to a potential tornado. This is the first time I've heard them go off for anything but a test. No tornadoes ever touched down, fortunately, but here's how things went and a couple of observations.
We'd seen on TV that a tornado warning had been issued for our area. I looked online for more specifics and listened to the NOAA weather radio. Though dinner was in the oven, we didn't want to chance it. We shut the oven off. I cleared the floor in our walk-in closet in case we needed an immediate spot. Then we all got shoes or slippers on. Jen stocked the diaper backpack and pulled it on. I grabbed the keys to the storage area, hung a flashlight around my neck, stuck my cell phone & NOAA radio in my pocket, and pulled on my bugout bag after swapping out the water filter for a second liter of water. Then all four of us headed to the basement.
I opened up our storage stall, got out an electric camp lantern, our folding chairs and two sleeping bags. As I was doing this, the CD siren went off. My daughter became frightened, so my wife wisely told her that it was OK and that we were going to pull the sleeping bags over our heads and play like we're camping.
The siren went off for a few minutes then stopped. Not long after that, the NOAA radio reported that the warning had been cancelled and we packed everything back up and headed back to our dinner.
All in all, I think it went well. We didn't panic. We knew what to do and did it quickly. Though our basement is only half-deep (it has windows), I feel pretty confident that huddling together in the middle of the room with two large sleeping bags spread over us would've protected us well from any flying glass. We had redundant emergency lights with us, two liters plus of water, a couple days worth of food, multiple means of communicating/signaling (cell phone, whistle, lights) and the sleeping bags would have kept us warm and dry.
What surprised me were two things: 1) The siren went off after we'd already taken action and relocated. What caused the delay, I wonder? Don't you want to give people as much warning as possible? 2) Nobody else joined us. Now, it's a Friday evening and many folks may be out and about, but it's not like this is a two-flat. We were the only folks in the basement.
Kudos to my wife for being so quick-thinking and taking decisive action and to my daughter who, though afraid, behaved herself very well. My son fell asleep once we pulled the sleeping bags up around us. Smart kid.
Anyone else hit the basement this night? What's your plan for tornadoes?