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How to Prepare For Severe Weather
“Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst”
The day started out beautiful and sunny. The forecast called for a strong chance of thunderstorms later in the afternoon. Plenty of time to run some errands and maybe grab some lunch before the rains drowned out the sunshine. An hour later, all that is left of the town is uprooted trees, piles of rubble that were buildings just a short time ago, and the feeling of complete and total loss. Few things on this planet can cause a person to stop dead in their tracks, paralyzed with fear, and overwhelm them by the sheer power and magnitude of Mother Nature. Tornados are capable of all of this and much worse.
While it is impossible to predict a tornado, severe weather, or other natural disaster, it is possible to prepare for one. By preparing a family emergency communication plan and an emergency kit, your family stands a better chance of making it through a disaster and being reunited.
Designated Meeting Place
Emergency Communication Plan
The kids are at school, your spouse is out of town on a business trip and you were running errands when the tornado hits. What do you do? Use your Emergency Communication Plan. A family emergency communication plan is an easy to make plan that helps keep your family in touch in case of an emergency.
1. Designate an out of state friend or relative as a main point of contact for all household members to check in with to report they are out of danger. Be sure to notify the friend or relative and let them know that they are the point of contact.
2. Make sure that all family members know the phone number or have the information for the point of contact; program all cell phone numbers with “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) with the contact’s phone number, update all emergency contact cards at work and at school, and provide family members with change or a calling card in case cell phones are out of service.
3. Place a contact card for each family member in backpacks, school bags, purses or wallets. Information on the card should include their name, address, phone number for the out of state point of contact, any medications or allergies, and the names of their family members. FEMA offers a downloadable and printable Family Emergency Contact Form and Contact Cards.
4. Designate a safe place for all family members to meet at if an emergency strikes when the family isn’t together. Plan out how each family member will get to the safe place (from work, school, while out shopping, etc.).
5. Check to see if your community offers an alert service and sign up. Most systems will send a text message, email and an automated call to notify subscribers of pending bad weather, local emergencies, fires, road and bridge closures, etc. You can sign up by contacting your local Office of Emergency Management or visiting the Federal Office of Emergency Management (FEMA).
Emergency Kit Example
Family Emergency Kit
Once you have your emergency communication plan created, the next step is to build a family emergency kit. After an emergency or natural disaster, it may be up to 72 hours before emergency services can reach you and your family. Therefore, it is very important that you have supplies on hand to survive on your own.
1. Food and Water. When preparing the kit, store a minimum of three days of non-perishable food for each person in the household. Take into consideration food that the family will eat and any special dietary needs. Select canned foods, dried goods and other foods that do not need refrigeration, water, milk, cooking, or any special preparation. Remember to add a manual or battery operated can opener and eating utensils.
2. Water. To calculate how much water to store in the emergency kit, estimate a gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. Add additional water if there is nursing mothers or children in the family, and double the total amount of water in very hot climates.
3. Medications and First Aid. Don’t forget to include any prescription drugs family members may require and a basic first aid kit.
4. Basic Supplies. Include items such as a wrench to turn off utilities until the power is restored. A hand crank radio and/or a NOAA weather alert radio for updates and information. Include a hand crank flashlight or a flashlight with extra batteries, a whistle to summon help, and a solar charger or inverter for charging cell phones. And don’t forget about supplies for the family pet or pets. For a complete list of additional emergency supplies, check out the Emergency Supplies Check List.
5. Shelter and basic services. Include duct tape and plastic sheeting in case you need to make temporary shelter. For sanitary situations, pack trash bags, plastic ties, moist towelettes and hand sanitizer in the emergency kit. Add sleeping bags, blankets and a spare set of clothing for each person in the family.
6. After the emergency kit is complete, store the contents in either a sturdy plastic or metal container to keep out pests. Remember to replace the food and water items every six months with newer items and write the date they are put into the kit on the outside of each item. Place your emergency kit in a designated place where it will be ready in case you have to vacate your home in a rush. Ensure that all family members know where the kit is kept and who is responsible for retrieving the kit in an emergency.
"Always Be Prepared"
Tornadoes, severe weather and other natural disasters can occur almost without warning. No one knows when an emergency situation may strike. A natural disaster or emergency can be one of the most frightening things to happen to a family. But, with a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that your family can be reunited and make it through the disaster until help arrives.