Severe weather can happen any time, but the higher incidence of severe weather occurs in the spring. To be properly prepared, knowing the differences of the warnings that are broadcast on radio and TV is important.
What is difference between a watch and a warning?
A watch defines when conditions are possible for severe weather or tornadoes in the next several hours. It does not mean severe weather or tornadoes are imminent, just that area residents need to be alert and prepared to go to a safe shelter if a warning is issued. Watches are the time to turn on local TV, radio, or weather radio, make sure there is ready access to a safe shelter, and make sure friends and family are aware of the potential for severe weather or tornadoes in the area.
A warning means that severe weather, or a tornado, has been spotted in the immediate area, or that Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued it is time to take immediate safety precautions.
Tornadoes or other severe weather conditions can easily overwhelm emergency forces. As an example, Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005, affected a good part of many states. As a result of a major weather event, area residents may be left to fend for themselves until emergency personnel can get to them. Having a “72 hour kit” is a great emergency preparedness for everyone.
What is a 72 hour kit?
This is a kit of emergency supplies that are kept at home in the event of an emergency. In a major emergency, the fire and police departments will know assistance is needed, however getting
to the location of an emergency may be complicated by fallen trees, building materials, wires, etc. Initially, first responders will also need to prioritize their actions. Emergency personnel will respond to all calls, but it could take some time, so a 72 hour kit can help residents be prepared to take care of themselves until help arrives.
A partial list of equipment that should be in a 72 hour kit include a battery operated flashlight and radio, extra batteries, work shoes, spare clothes, a pry tool, first aid kit, cell phone, bottled water (recommended is one gallon per person per day), ready-to-eat food, pens/paper, hygiene supplies, garbage cans with lids, and money (remember that in a power loss ATMs will not be working).
It is also a good idea to have a meeting place where family members can gather. In an emergency, residents will not be allowed into a damaged site. There should also be a secondary site, or a person that people can contact, that is far out of the area in the event that the first site is not accessible. Remember, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many regions in the area were not accessible.