The Richmond Register

March 19, 2013

Get ready for severe weather

Bad weather

By Gina Noe
Extension Agent

MADISON COUNTY — While you can’t control weather, you do have control over how prepared you are to face the challenges severe weather often presents. Preparing for severe weather will relieve the stress of uncertainty in an emergency situation.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to own an National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio with specific area message encoding capabilities.

A NOAA weather radio with SAME technology can be programmed to give weather alerts specific to where you live. This radio is particularly important to the growing population of people who only watch cable television or spend their time on the Internet as these services often do not cover local weather alerts.  (For more information on SAME technology, see www.nws.noaa.gov/

nwr/nwrsame.htm.)

However, most Madison County residents are eligible to receive the federally funded Advisor Alert radio provided by the Madison County Emergency Agency/CSEPP.

For more information on these radios, go to www.MadisonCounty

EMA.net .

In addition to owning a weather radio with extra batteries, you need to create an emergency supply kit with enough necessities to last a minimum of three days.  It is a good idea to put two kits together, one to remain in your home and a smaller version to take with you in case of evacuation.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests your emergency kit supplies include:  One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, dust masks to help filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place, moist towelettes, garbage bags with plastic ties for personal sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a can opener and local maps.

 If you want to take it a step further, you can add one sleeping bag per person, a change of clothing for each person, mess kits, paper and pens, and books, games or puzzles to pass the time.

You should also take into consideration the unique needs of your household when putting together your kit. Don’t forget to pack medications, and consider the needs of your pets, children and older family members. Consider every possibility when you are putting your supply kit together.

It is a good idea to place your insurance policies, some cash, identifications and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

In addition to an emergency kit, you will need to make a comprehensive family communication plan Everyone should know what to do in the event you are not together when an emergency occurs. It is suggested that each family member calls, or emails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency.

It is also important for everyone to have an out-of-town contact designated as it is often easier to call out-of-town during storm events. Each person should know these contacts and phone numbers.

 An evacuation plan that involves everyone in a household is important. Advanced planning will save precious time in the event of a storm emergency.

For example, if you live in a trailer, you need to establish a safe place to go during a tornado watch. Do not wait for a tornado warning to evacuate as there might not be enough time to get out.

In the event of evacuation for other reasons, it is important for all family members to know the destination location. You should map several routes to get to this location in case one route is blocked.

Make sure you know the emergency plans and protocols at your school and work. It is imperative that all emergency contact information is kept up to date.

It is also helpful to be aware of the typical storm issues you have in your area. Does it flood every time it rains? Is it common to have tornados? Awareness allows for advanced preparation specific to your potential needs.

 If your church or other volunteer organization is interested in becoming part of a team that helps prepare your community for emergencies, consider joining the Madison County VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters).

You can find out more about this program by calling Skip Little at 625-2824.

For more information about storm preparedness contact the Madison County Cooperative Extension Service, 623-4072.

(Source:  Connee Wheeler, senior extension associate for family and consumer sciences, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security)