Preparation important ahead of severe weather

by: Keith Monday Updated:


The storm that caused damage in Gaston and Lincoln counties last summer sent Jaime Walker scrambling for shelter in her closet.

It's what she has identified as her home's safe room. In fact, she and her son Carter rode out two storms there last year.

“It was stressful, a little bit scary,” Walker said. “We did see on the TV that it was coming. The weather radio was going off.”

Walker keeps her weather radio on at all times so she never misses those warnings. She also has a safe box packed with food and other emergency supplies.

There's no question Walker is prepared, but is her closet the safest spot for her and her son in a major storm?        To find out, Channel 9 called in an expert.

Eyewitness News asked Capt. Mark Basnight with the Charlotte Fire Department to take a look around Walker’s home and identify the best spot for surviving a storm. He immediately eliminated the master bath, even though bathrooms are often considered safe spots.

“It's a bathroom, but it's against an exterior wall and there's windows and glass,” Basnight said.

A strong storm could blow the windows out or in.

The home's other bathroom looked promising -- it has no windows.

But a mirror created a glass hazard.  Another problem is its proximity to a big tree that could crash down in a storm.

For that reason, Basnight decided Walker’s closet is indeed her home's safest spot.

But he pointed out even that isn't as safe as it could be.

“The only thing you might want to consider is removing this fluorescent bulb in the event of that, because if the structural integrity is compromised that could become a hazard, the glass falling on you guys,” Basnight said.

Basnight said when it comes to choosing your own home's safe spot, you should go to the lowest floor in a small interior room like a bathroom or closet with no windows.

A basement is good if you have one or underneath a stairwell.

Wherever the spot is, crouch down low and cover up with some sort of padding, like a mattress or a sleeping bag.

As for Walker, she got high marks from Basnight for being so prepared.

“The main thing is to have that plan, to exercise this plan,” he said. “It's one of the most neglected thing that I see families do.”

The most important thing is to think about these things ahead of time. Do it now before the storm comes, so you're ready when it does.