Knowing ahead of time exactly where you will go if bad weather hits could help save your life. If that safe place is a shelter built in your house it is a good idea to make sure it is ready to go at a moment's notice.
It is absolutely critical that your shelter is well maintained because often you only have a short time to get to safety, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
"When a storm is bearing down, the last thing you want to deal with is a sticky or broken latch, pests or some other issue that interferes with getting your family to safety," she said.
Setting aside time to regularly inspect your shelter is one way to ensure everything stays in working order, said Sonya McDaniel, Pottawatomie County FCS Educator. One easy way to remember this all-important task is to schedule it each fall and spring at the same time as Daylight Savings Time, which was on Sunday, March 10.
No matter when the inspection takes place, it should always include making sure door handles and hinges are working properly and that the structure is free of standing water and pests. Also make sure it is equipped with the appropriate supplies, including an emergency kit for your family as well as your pets.
"You should have enough food, water and other supplies to last at least three days," McDaniel said. "If any of your family members have specific needs, such as medicine or diapers and formula for a small child, don't forget to plan for that as well."
For a detailed list of recommended items for an emergency kit, visit www.ready.gov.
Finally, Peek stressed the importance of using your shelter for its intended purpose, and not as an extra closet.
"Resist storing your Christmas decorations or off-season clothes in your shelter," she said. "It's designed to save your life. If you can't fit or if the items could harm you during a storm, you're defeating the purpose of having that extra protection."