Tornado Warning and No Emergency Migraine Kit

Right now I'm sitting in my mostly unfinished, concrete basement with my family, along with the cat and dog. My migraine body has been telling me all day that storms were coming, and they were predicted, but the Weather Channel and National Weather Service mentioned nothing about severe weather. A couple of hours ago I was scrolling around on my phone while cleaning up dinner and helping Zo with homework. “Horseland” was playing on Netflix. It was a typical chaotic night in our home, until I noticed that a tornado watch had been issued for the counties just west of us.

“Elizabeth, come in here a second,” John called from the kitchen. I grabbed my phone with its tornado watch map and was going to show him, but then I saw the look on his face. “There is an actual tornado on the ground in Defiance. Listen to this language in the warning on the local news: 'Extremely dangerous. Take cover now.'”

Defiance is about 45 minutes directly west of us.

Trying to act casual, I helped X with a new text document so she could write her play in the office. Zo finished her homework and started playing Minecraft. John contacted the friend he plays music with on Wednesday nights and they discussed canceling their show. I kept an eye on Facebook and did see reports that there was a large, dangerous tornado one county over. The sky was white and everything was still.

Suddenly my phone buzzed and a high pitched emergency broadcast tone emanated from it. “Tornado Warning” flashed across the screen. John came in from the kitchen, his eyes wide. The eerie, air horn style sirens began outside. X ran in, crying hysterically. “We should go to the basement,” John said. “I have blankets and flashlights.” Feeling the pressure increasing in my head, my throat closing, I gathered my things and followed my frantic family. Usually our tornado warnings are always radar indicated, not actual dangerous tornadoes on the ground.

I thought about a tornado hitting our house and put my shoes on. Medication? I would never leave the house without it. has had lots of articles about the importance of having a migraine toolkit for these kinds of situations, to which I had always thought Oh gosh yeah, I should do that.

Instead of grabbing a safely stored bag of already prepared migraine stuff, I had to run upstairs and look through my nightstand for a Sumatriptan injection. I heard John yelling for me in a panic and tried to hurry as darkness descended outside. I grabbed what I needed and decided to not waste time looking for anything else, and felt very fortunate my pain was still low. “Medication,” I explained breathlessly, as I finally joined everyone in the basement.

And three tornado warnings later, here we still sit. Maybe you remember, on August 24, hearing about the destructive tornadoes in Indiana and Ohio? The worst was in Kokomo, where a Starbucks was flattened, but they moved into Ohio too. The first tornado went north and another re-formed; then another cell with rotation came up from southeast. More are supposed to arrive by 11:30. You can better believe that when this is all over, I'm going to make my own emergency migraine kit and have it ready for next time.

For situations like this, and the earthquake that just struck Italy, it would be ideal to combine a usual disaster preparedness kit with items from both the “At Home” and “On-The-Go” Migraine Kits referenced here before.

Recommended items to have in an Emergency Migraine Toolkit:

  • Medication: At least two doses of regular medication, as well as your rescue and anti-nausea medication.
  • Bottled Water: A bottle of water in order to take pills and / or to stay hydrated.
  • Sunglasses or Sleep Mask: If you are in a small space with your family, or have to take shelter elsewhere, you want to be able to make your environment dark if necessary.
  • Earplugs: Same deal as the sunglasses, but for quiet.
  • Non-perishable snacks: In case low blood sugar triggers attacks or you need food with your meds.
  • Instant Ice or Heat Packs: These can be purchased in regular first aid aisles. While disposable, they would be indispensable if you are caught in an emergency during an attack (or have an attack during an emergency)!
  • Flashlight: If the power is out, or you have the lights off on purpose, you can still find what you need.
  • Air-Sickness Bag: These are small and compact, and you certainly don't want to throw up all over the place.
  • Small Blanket and / or Pillow: Comfort is always nice.
  • Emergency Medical Information: A list of your medications and doctors.
  • Disaster Preparedness Items: A basic first aid kit; phone charger; battery-operated radio; moist towlettes and plastic bags; extra food and water; and items for your children if you have them.

Just as every person with migraine is different, every migraine kit can be tailored to your specific needs. Especially if you live in a flood, hurricane, tornado or earthquake prone area, it would be a very good idea to have these items already set aside in an easy-to-grab container. My home wasn't damaged, but if it had been, I would have been in trouble. Don't wait for disaster to strike like I did. Plan ahead!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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