TERRE HAUTE —
If a weather disaster should strike — blizzard, tornado, earthquake, flood, sinkhole — could you survive for the next 72 hours?
Where is the medicine you will need? Do you have emergency supplies such as water, a first-aid kit, canned food, blankets?
Hoosiers are being asked this week to think about those things and to plan for unforeseen disasters, during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have joined together to help save lives from severe weather by asking the public to “be a force of nature” by knowing your risk and taking proactive emergency preparedness measures, as well as inspiring others to do the same.
“Severe weather is unpredictable, but you can prepare for it,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA regional administrator. “Start by knowing your risk. Then, take action by making your emergency plans and once you are prepared, encourage friends and neighbors to be prepared too.”
J.D. Kesler, deputy director of Vigo County EMA, said having an emergency preparedness kit is the best thing a household can do to make it through a disaster.
“People don’t realize how important it is to take care of yourself for the first 72 hours, because that’s about how long it usually takes for emergency crews to get through the first critical hours and for additional help to arrive,” Kesler said.
He urged everyone to have needed medication on hand and to make copies of important documents such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, passports, wills and other hard-to-replace documents, and to keep those items in a plastic ziplocked bag with the emergency kit.
The federal agencies encourage citizens to prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:
n Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect the area where you live and work and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for alerts from your local emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms, and your shelter planning should include all types of local hazards.
n Take action: Develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter before a severe weather event. Create or refresh an emergency kit with food, supplies and medication that will be needed by you and your family after a disaster. Post your plan in your home where family and visitors can see it. Learn community evacuation routes. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. Download FEMA’s mobile app so you can access important safety tips on what to do before and during severe weather. Understand the weather warning system and become a certified storm spotter through the National Weather Service.
n Be an example: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered with your social media network. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting. Be one of those sources. When you seek shelter after a warning, text, tweet or update your status so your friends and family will know you are safe. You might just save their lives by encouraging others to seek safety, too. For more information on how you can prepare for severe weather, visit www.ready.gov/
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.