Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week to be held April 9-13

One of the most important things my sergeant once told me was “Fail to Plan Then Plan to Fail” and nothing can be truer, especially when preparing for severe weather. As the season of severe weather approaches, dust off the plan you had last year. If you didn’t have a plan create one, not just for yourself, but for those around you. 

During this Storm Season there are three types of severe weather you should prepare for:

Tornado Safety at Home, Work and Play and while you’re away.

Be aware of your surroundings:

• In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement, and get under a sturdy table or the stairs. A specially-constructed “safe room” within a building offers the best protection.

• If a basement is not available, move to a small interior room on the lowest floor and cover yourself with anything close at hand: towels, blankets, pillows. If possible, get under a sturdy table, desk or counter. Put as many walls as possible between you and the storm. Stay away from windows.

• If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to shelter, get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have two options as a last resort: Stay in the vehicle with the seatbelt on and place your head below the windows. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the roadway, exit the vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Do not seek shelter under an overpass.

• Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. You should leave a mobile home and go to the designated storm shelter or the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building.

• Make sure you have multiple ways to receive weather information. A NOAA Weather Radio, access to local TV, and smart phone apps can keep you informed when severe weather threatens.

Lightning Kills...Play it Safe. 

• All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. In an average year, lightning kills nearly 50 people in the U.S. Since 2005, lightning has killed eight people and injured at least 30 in Wisconsin.

• Lightning often strikes outside the area of heavy rain and may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall.

• If you hear thunder, you are in danger! Anytime thunder is heard, the storm is close enough to pose an immediate threat to your location.

• Have a lightning safety plan. Designate a safe location before the event starts. Have specific guidelines for suspending the activity so that everyone has time to reach safety.

• Prior to a practice or outdoor event, check the latest forecast. If thunderstorms are expected, consider postponing activities early to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

• If you hear thunder, suspend your activity im-mediately and instruct everyone to get to a safe place. Substantial buildings provide the best protection. Avoid sheds, open shelters, dugouts, bleachers, and grandstands. If a sturdy building is not nearby, a hard-topped metal vehicle with windows closed will offer good protection. Do not crouch or lie down—continue moving to a place of shelter.

• If boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter.

• Do not resume activities until 30 minutes have passed since the last thunder was heard.

Turn Around...Don’t Drown.

• Last year in Wisconsin, six people were killed as a result of flooding.

• Many floods occur along streams and rivers. You can determine your risk by knowing your proximity to the water.

• Urban areas have a risk for flash floods due to increased runoff from buildings, roads and parking lots. Low spots, such as underpasses and basements, can become death traps.

• Dam failures have played a deadly role in the history of flash flooding. Be aware of dams upstream from your location. Earthen dams and associated embankments are more easily compromised by heavy rainfall.

• When camping or hiking near a stream or river, listen to the latest weather forecasts and keep away from the water if thunderstorms are expected. If a warning is issued or flooding is observed, move to higher ground.

• Do not attempt to walk or drive through a flooded roadway or intersection. Only six inches of fast-flowing water can knock an adult off their feet. And it takes just two feet of moving water to float a vehicle. Turn around, don’t drown!

As this year’s storm season approaches; develop a plan if you don’t have one, and if you have one, update it. Ensure your family knows the plan, and create an Emergency Kit which should include:

• Water, 1-2 bottles per person in your household

• Non-perishable food items

• Flashlight w/extra batteries

• Small First Aid Kit

• Blankets/Clothes

• Copies of Medical In-surance Information

• Portable Radio w/extra Batteries

• Can Opener

These are just a few items that should be in your Emergency Kit; then designate a location for it.  When weather warnings are issued heed the warnings and follow the instructions from your first responders.  And remember “Fail to Plan Then Plan to Fail”.