By Samuetta Hill Drew
February 17 – 22 is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Our Governor, Kay Ivey, has weighed in on the importance of this topic for Alabamians, specifically since March typically begins severe weather season for us. Alabama, along with some other southern states, are in the path of “Dixie Alley.” This means our state and others are more susceptible to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes especially during the spring and fall.
Understanding the safety threats in your geographical area is essential in determining the type of preparation required. Being prepared and acting quickly could become a matter of survival. Remember, severe weather knows no boundaries and affects individuals regardless of zip codes.
This is the time of year you and your family members, of all ages, should review your home emergency and communication plans. Plans should be adjusted annually as needed. Your plans should include preparation for all types of local safety risks. Don’t forget to include your pets in your safety plans, if applicable.
You should take out your emergency home kit and update as needed. This includes changing your batteries, testing all battery-operated items. Review the expiration dates on your non-perishable food products. Freshen up your blankets, pillows and an extra change of clothes. It is recommended your water supply should be enough for each family member to have a gallon per day. A sufficient emergency food and water supply should last for three days.
It is important everyone knows the predetermined safe areas of your home and how to evacuate in case of an emergency. Make sure your emergency home kit is in one of your shelter areas so it can be easily reached during a disaster. Some suggested food items include cans of tuna, dry cereals, dried fruits, protein bars, non-perishable milk, etc.
Secure any items outdoors which can be blown away or can potentially become a projectile during strong winds. This includes trash cans, lawn furniture, etc.
Other crucial items for your home emergency kits are flashlights and batteries, emergency radio, first aid kit, whistle to alert first responders or others of your location, garbage bags, dust masks, utility shut off tools, etc. Some of these items will be on sale during the state’s “tax-free” severe weather weekend. This begins February 22, 2019.
Never park under or near a big tree. Find a location where blown limbs can’t damage your car. If you have a garage use it!
Being proactive by knowing your safety risk, being prepared and taking appropriate actions before, during and after severe weather is the best way to Keep an Eye on Safety.