Reducing Storm Anxiety

Tornadoes, flooding and ice storms are a part of life here in the heartland, but that doesn't mean these aren't stressful events.  Stress is how the brain and body respond to threats or challenges. Although everyone feels stressed from time to time, feeling anxious during stormy weather can be overwhelming.

However, it's important to remember that you are not alone.

In fact, not all stress is bad. Why? Because it can motivate us to prepare. Preparation enhances resilience and can help reduce the feelings of stress. Here are some tips to help you increase your and your loved ones'  physical and emotional resilience.


Both scientific research and common sense have shown that the more you prepare for an event, the less anxious you will be and the better you will perform. Here are some tips to prepare for severe weather.

Have a plan:
  • Build an emergency kit. Make sure you include important paperwork for everyone in your home. Don't forget supplies for your pet(s)!
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Know the emergency plan of your children’s school or daycare.
  • Fill up your vehicle's gas tank. 
Get the facts:
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Make sure your weather radio is turned on.
Reach out to your children:
  • Be calm and supportive. Find out more about how to strengthen your children’s emotional well-being both before and after a storm by downloading Help Kids Cope (Free for Android and Apple devices).
  • Encourage your children to learn more about the weather by playing games or other activities. For example, visit:
  • Visit our Tips for Parents page for more.
  • Consider watching/listening to weather alerts in a separate room if possible.
Prepare your mind and body:
  • Learn to recognize when you or someone you care about is showing signs of feeling anxious or stressed. Recognizing these signs early and doing something about them, can help you and others reduce the chances of becoming overwhelmed during bad weather.  Some of the signs could be:
    • being easily irritated 
    • feeling depressed 
    • experiencing unexplained body aches and pains
  • Engage in self-care. Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep and take time to do activities you enjoy. 
  • Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and promote calm. These techniques are particularly helpful in preventing or short-circuiting panic attacks.
  • Learn more about managing stress at the Mayo Clinic or
Connect to Social Supports:
Social support is related to emotional well-being and recovery after a disaster. People who are well-connected to others are more likely to be able to handle the stress of a crisis. 
  • Work to maintain and strengthen your social support network. This includes family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, hobby or club members, church members and clergy.
  • The benefits of social connectedness include:
    • Increased opportunities for knowledge essential to disaster recovery
    • Help with practical problem-solving
    • Emotional understanding and acceptance
    • Sharing of experiences and concerns
    • Mutual instruction about coping
  • Coping Tips after a disaster
Helping our pets: 
When it comes to disasters, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.
  • Develop a Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit. Include things like:
    • Food and water for at least 5 days
    • Food and water for at least 5 days
    • Medication and medical records
    • Cat litter box, litter, scoop and garbage bags
    • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers
    • Current photo of you with your pets and description of your pets
    • Written information about your pets feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian
  • Learn more at the Humane Society, or

After The Storm

What to do when the storm has passed:
  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check in with family and friends.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one so that rescuers can locate you.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Photograph the damage to your property to assist in filing an insurance claim. See more information here: Step by Step Disaster Recovery Guide 
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property (put a tarp on a damaged roof) as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
  • If your home doesn't have power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns instead of candles to prevent accidental fires.
  • Be careful of scams. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are willing to take advantage of people after a disaster. Here are some links for avoiding disaster fraud: 8 Tips to Avoid Disaster Relief Scams and Fraud, and National Center for Disaster Fraud
If you are still having difficulty coping after the storm,  consider seeking additional help.
Crisis Counseling:

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PTSD is a condition that can develop after you have been through a trauma. After the event, you may feel afraid and nervous. You may have upsetting thoughts, memories, or nightmares of the event. You may feel numb or cut off from other people. You may also avoid things that remind you of the event. These symptoms can disrupt your life, making it hard to continue with your daily activities. If these feelings or experiences don't go away over time or they get worse, you may have PTSD.

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Other Resources

Below are some links to further resources you may find helpful.

Disaster Preparedness

Learn About Disasters

Oklahoma Resources

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