Tornado drills are a joke.

Tornado drills are a joke.

How about practicing elsewhere?

As a girl who’s always lived in Missouri, tornado drills have always been a part of my life. I could tuck my head under a desk in my sleep (it’s the bus fire drills that always left me queasy). Having been in a couple of tornados, I can vouch for the ineffectiveness of the drills themselves. They’re pretty much a joke.

For starters, those hallways that we have in schools and those desks we have to cower under do not exist in real life! So forget curling up under/next to them during a real tornado. Secondly, there’s no teacher telling you what to do—and instead of some idiot hurling spitballs at you, there are crying toddlers scared of the storm. It’s a much more different environment than you might think! Here are a couple of places where we experienced real tornado warnings—I highly recommend practicing at any of them, as well as at home.

The movie theater. We were in the middle of watching Kung Fu Panda when this happened. We all filed out and were unable to get out to our cars—not that we’d want to-so we were to line up along the dimly-lit walls, cuddled over our children as we listened to the siren blare and the winds scream outside. This gave me lots of experience in calming my child—which came in handy during the next two scenarios—but it also made me realize that disaster preparedness is probably 80% about just being flexible and savvy enough to keep a clear head during a disaster.

The store. Last year we were stuck at the store the weekend before Easter during a tornado that went right past us. It was terrifying—loud and angry and everything you’d think a tornado might be—and some people just kept right on shopping, even though we were directed to the center of the store! I huddled in the floor with my daughter in my lap, ready to cover her with myself, attempting to keep her calm during the scariness of it all, which wasn’t easy. But I certainly learned a lot from it.

The museum. This happened just yesterday—a tornado was sighted in north county, which was far enough away from us where it probably wouldn’t hit us, but you never know; plus, it was the nature center’s policy to duck and cover per any warning. So we were in the basement, pretty much just chilling, and my daughter was much more level-headed than she’d been at the previous two warnings, which just goes to show that experience can also help a lot. Together we were able to calm a couple of other children down as well, which gave us both a lesson in staying zen during a storm.