We're heading into severe weather season. Make your plan ahead of time!

You made it through Severe Weather Awareness Week! All last week, we examined weather hazards associated with severe weather.

(courtesy: NOAA)

We learned how severe thunderstorms formed and what differentiates a supercell from a regular storm. You now know how tornadoes develop from these storms and how hail is formed. The beauty and danger of lightning was discussed along with the number one severe weather killer, (next to heat) floods.

Now that we can identify what could occur during severe weather, how do we protect ourselves? We need a plan.

(courtesy: NOAA)

First, during the upcoming months, pay attention to the weather. Severe weather can happen quickly, but you may now be more aware when a change in wind direction occurs, or when the wind goes absolutely still. The National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings, watches and advisories. A quick review, no matter what the header is: Severe Thunderstorm, Flood, Tornado, Wind, the next word determines if you are preparing or taking action. 

(courtesy: NWS)

 A Warning means severe weather is happening now! Check to see if your county or city is included. You should put your plan in action.

A Watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather to occur. This will cover a wider county area as well as more hours than a warning. A Watch means we should prepare for the chance that severe weather will occur. 

An Advisory is in the pre watch stage. Just keep an eye out for conditions to change.

In the event of severe weather, is there one place or person you can designate as your contact point? Where will you shelter? Assign a place in your home; it could be a lower floor room with minimal windows. 

(courtesy: NWS)

Your severe weather kit for home should include non perishable food for everyone in your family, including pets, to last from 3 days to a week. Make sure you have enough bottled water for everyone, at least a gallon per person per day. If using canned goods, you’ll need a manual can opener (remember those?). Get fresh batteries for flashlights and weather radios. If you don’t have a weather radio, now is the time to get one. A battery powered weather radio will keep you updated on the status of severe weather in case your power goes out or cell towers are down. Have a first aid kit handy. Learn CPR ahead of time.

For sanitation, put aside moist towlettes and garbage bags. These are some of the basic items you should think of. If you have young children, or even pets, pack their favorite toy to reduce stress.

Ready.gov, the US government website, has an extensive list of items to add to your survival kit, even suggesting cash, in case ATM machines stop working. 

Try to keep a full (or close to full) tank of gas in your car in case of power outages or evacuation. Keep jumper cables, flashlights and blankets packed in your trunk.

In the event you have to evacuate, follow evacuation signs. Don’t drive through flooded areas. Remember, flooding is second only to heat in weather fatalities. Stay away from downed power lines. 

(courtesy: NOAA)

As you compile your list, you’ll think of additional things to add that may be unique to your family and situation. The key thing is to think about what you would do in severe weather, before severe weather arrives. Be Safe and Prepared!

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