Waking to a 3am tornado warning

Safety first, but don't freak out the kids. What would you do?

Waking to a 3am tornado warning

Waking to a 3am tornado warning 1024 768 Looking out Loud

This is 60-second Dadspeak—daily reflections on becoming a dad, while still growing up myself. You can find the full mini-pod audio list here.


My wife and I woke up at 3am to a blaring siren. Blinking on our phones was a severe tornado warning, telling us to take shelter.

It’s 3am. Our kids are sound asleep. Fuck. What do we do?

As the kids slept, we quickly went downstairs to scope things out.

We have a crawl space—with an ever-present inch of water on the ground and arachnophobia cobwebs. It’s safer than a twister, but not exactly where you want to drop kids—or yourself—in the middle of the night.

So we prepared a small closet with blankets and pillows, keeping the nearby crawl space open just in case.

Our first goal was not to die. Our second goal was not to freak out the kids. Do we bring them down now? Do we wait and see if the storm really picks up, and then wake them up?

My rational mind was reminding me that the actual probability of a tornado hitting was tiny. Plus, two years ago, before we moved in, a tornado actually hit the house we’re now living in for this year we’re in the US. Sounds scary, but the chances that a second tornado hits the exact same place is even smaller, right?

Our first goal won, and we brought the kids downstairs to the sofa, next to the prepared closet. We didn’t mention “tornado.” Instead we said there was a storm with ice balls, so we needed to get away from the windows.

It was another 5 minutes before the wind picked up, 60-70 mph is what the news said. Then the lightening storm, then what sounded like hail. 10 minutes later, it was calm again. The tornado never came.

And we all went back to bed.

It’s so hard to know what to do in these situations. Safety is number one. But you don’t want to unnecessarily panic the kids, and have them worrying every time a storm hits.

What would you do in this situation?



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