The summer’s unpredictable severe weather and debilitating power outages highlight the need for preparedness planning.
We’ve seen devastating hurricanes and tornadoes in the past years and miles-wide fires destroying everything in their paths. Since devastating natural disasters are happening on and around our planet, it’s becoming more important for you and your family to know what to do and how to prepare when weather threatens your life.
Awareness is Crucial
Knowing ahead of time before a storm strikes gives you time to prepare. Today is a good day to check your personal inventory and determine if you have the tools to answer these questions: Is there any severe weather likely today? Is there any developing now? Is it anywhere near me or moving toward me? Is it time for me to take action/go to shelter?
There is a wealth of information out there that can provide forecasts, watches, warnings, radar imagery, lightning strikes, etc. And many of the tools for accessing that information are low-cost or no-cost and easy to use. There may also be a local weather watch organization in your area that provides live or online weather spotting classes. You don’t have to be a tornado chaser to benefit from these classes as you’ll learn more of the mechanics of severe weather and how to be better prepared.
Following are a few awareness ideas to consider:
- NOAA Weather Radios – The Old Reliable of notification devices. While not as high-tech as some other options out there, this is still a good investment for those who want to keep it simple… and who want to be sure they wake up when that Tornado Warning is issued! Watch my video review of the Kaito 550 Emergency Radio.
- Text notifications – If you aren’t into fancy smartphone apps, you can sign up for a basic text notification that will alert you to those Watches and Warnings. A good starting point to look for these is your local broadcast media station. Speaking of broadcast media, you can also tune into your local TV or radio stations during severe weather to catch live coverage of storm progress.
- Smartphone apps – If there is something weather-related you want to know, there is probably an app for it. This one may require a little research to determine the best fit for your needs. I like using on my iPhone an app from MyRadar.com. There are also those Wireless Emergency Alerts that appear on your smartphone – the ones that don’t require a subscription or an App Store download (remember the Amber Alerts that just suddenly show up on your screen?). These will trigger during Tornado Warnings, but not Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, so don’t plan to rely on these alone.
- Community Storm Sirens – We included this one because it’s still a good notification option for folks playing on the soccer field or walking the dog in the city park. Keep in mind that these are outdoor warning devices only, though. They’re meant to alert groups of people who are outside, exposed, and away from other sources of information. They aren’t meant to be heard indoors or to wake you up at night. Make sure you’ve picked one of the other tools above as your primary warning device.
Sometimes severe weather strikes with little notice, so you need to know how to survive during and after a catastrophic weather event.
Weather disasters will likely bring power outages and communication will be difficult, if not impossible. Having a battery powered portable radio will be crucial for gathering information and advisories during and after the weather event. This was one of the primary reasons I learned ham radio and obtained the necessary radio equipment.
If you’re in a flood zone, tornado or hurricane area, be sure you have the appropriate supplies to help you survive. At a minimum, you should have available to 72-hour survival kit. Having a basic 72-hour survival kit will set you apart from the others who find bare store shelves when they try to stock up at the last-minute.
Why should you have a family emergency plan and what kind of things should it cover?
Key points in your family emergency plan:
- Determine a local meeting place with a large open area, such as a park or school, where your household can gather if you are separated and do not have access to your home during emergencies.
- Arrange for an out-of-state emergency contact to reach for coordination and communication. After an emergency, it may be easier to call long distance than locally, or your family may be separated and need an outside contact to communicate through.
- Store your important papers in one easily accessible location, preferably in a waterproof and fireproof box (“My Life in a Box”) Store copies of key computer files, documents, pictures, etc. off site.
- Make sure that all capable members of your family know how and where to shut off the water, gas, and electricity for your home in the event of an emergency.
The Rule of “3’s” quickly illustrates where to place your priorities in times of disaster!
- Three seconds without blood circulation, and you are knocked out.
- Three minutes without breathing/air and you are knocked out.
- Three hours without proper clothing or shelter in extreme weather and you risk hypothermia/hyperthermia.
- Three days without water when physically active in hot weather and people start to die.
- Most people can last at least three weeks without food.