Severe Weather Plan: Make sure you and your family are prepared

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Severe Weather Season, with or without an ongoing health pandemic, is a time to have a plan in place days in advance of any approaching severe weather. One good place to start: have a good safety kit ready.

(Related: Storm Shelter and Emergency Management Links in the 4-States)

Weather.gov has a great checklist to have in your severe weather kit.

Recommended Supplies for a Basic Kit

  • Backpack or storage tub to hold your supplies
  • Bottled Water
    • 1 gallon per person is recommended
  • Non-Perishable food
    • If including canned foods, you must include a can opener
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First Aid Supplies
    • Bandages
    • Ointment
    • Disinfectant wipes
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper and bags with ties for personal sanitation
  • Paper and pen or pencil(to take notes, play games, etc)
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket(recommend one for each person in your home)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Personal hygiene items (travel size deodorant, cotton swabs, feminine items, etc)
  • Whistle to Signal for help
  • Important documents (identification, insurance information, banking information, wills, etc)
  • Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book
  • Battery powered radio and a NOAA Weather radio
  • Formula and diapers (if there is an infant in the house)
  • Extra pet food (if there are pets in the house)
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Cups and utensils
  • A change of clothes for each person in your home (if you live in a cooler climate make sure the clothes are warm!)
    • Also include a jacket, hat, gloves and closed toe shoes for walking (boots or sturdy sneakers are best)
  • Rain gear
  • Cash
  • Paper towels
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Cards or game (it is important to have something to do to take your mind off the situation for a few moments or alleviate stress if you will be in your shelter for an extended time)

Staying informed with severe weather watches, warnings and the latest forecast is important. Having multiple ways of doing that is best. If one form of communication fails, it’s good to have multiple ways of getting warning information during severe weather.

Koam Sky Watch Weather App Qr Code

KOAM has several free options:

  • SkyWatch Weather App (free through Apple and Google Play app stores) – Provides the latest watches and warnings, interactive radar, updated videos from the SkyWatch Weather Team and more.
  • Doug’s WeatherCall – Get warnings called to your home landline or to your smartphone by allowing it to use the GPS chip in your phone.
  • On Air, website and on Social Media – KOAM Meteorologists will cut in over the air when necessary during severe weather. You can watch cut-ins on KOAM-TV Channel 7, FOX14 Channel 14, at KOAMNewsNow.com/video, on apps offered on streaming services like Roku and on the KOAM News App. When possible, our meteorologists will also livestream updates on the KOAM News Now Facebook Page.

Another great option is to have a NOAA Weather Radio programmed for your county or for surrounding counties. You can follow the latest watches and warnings from the National Weather Service in your shelter and it warns you with a loud tone to wake you up in the middle of the night.

You can also enable Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your iPhone or Android to push emergency alerts as they are issued.

Since there are times that one or more methods of communication can fail or not work perfectly, it’s good to have multiple ways of getting warning information for severe weather.

When it comes to sheltering during severe weather, you have many options available. The general guideline to follow is to get as low as you can and as centered in the room/house as you can.

For most people, a storm cellar, storm shelter or a basement are great options for shelter for tornado warnings. If you have a safe room that’s below ground or at ground level, that’s another great option.

If you can’t get below ground and you feel that you’re in a sturdy home or building, have an interior closet, bathroom or any small room on the lowest floor without windows ready to go. For those living in apartments, an interior hallway on the lowest floor or a neighbor’s apartment on the lowest floor is the best option for you. The main principle with this approach is to have as many walls between you and the outside to shelter you from the storm and any potential debris.

For those who live in mobile homes or those who don’t have a good shelter to go in their home, the time is now (not when severe weather is working in) to have a secondary place ready to go. If it’s a gas station, convenience store or a public shelter, the responsibility falls on you to make sure those shelters will be available morning and night, weekday and weekend.

As long as you have your safety kit, your safe place and your ways of getting severe weather information ready to go, you’ll be ready for this and any severe weather season here in the Four States.

Related Stories: Should you use a community storm shelter during the pandemic?