SEVERE WEATHER THREAT – What You Need to Do NOW
Forecasters on Monday warned millions of Americans to be prepared for another round of severe storms, including strong tornadoes, a day after storms killed 16 people in three states.
The storms Sunday in Oklahoma, Iowa and in Arkansas — where 14 of the 16 people died — were the opening act of a three-day weather spell expected to provide at least a slight risk of severe weather through Wednesday.
In the hardest-hit area, Faulkner County, Arkansas, Sunday’s suspected tornado shattered homes, tossed tractor-trailers and killed 10 people, two of them children, authorities said. The most affected areas were in the towns of Vilonia and Mayflower.
Firestorm founders Harry Rhulen, Suzy Loughlin and Jim Satterfield wrote Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America specifically to address the need for disaster preparedness at home, and the book has become a cornerstone of many personal and corporate preparedness programs. “Remember: you are your own first responder,” the book reminds readers as it guides them through a comprehensive program of readiness.
In every crisis or disaster, family concerns override work commitments.
If the impact of a disaster or crisis can be lessened, the benefits to the employee, their family, and the client are enormous. The process of addressing these exposures sends a positive message to every employee that their family’s well being is valued. In addition, the client’s operational and financial impacts can be lessened.
During a Tornado threat, it is necessary for your family follow several key decisions you have made in your overall Family Action Plan.
- Rendezvous locations in case family members are separated when disaster strikes
- A Phone Tree for communicating with family members to activate your plan
- Agreement with each family member to use the Phone Tree and take it seriously
Determine what you have on hand now in the way of emergency supplies. Don’t worry that the minute you prepare your next meal, the tally will change. The point here is to record what you have and what you still need.
• Flashlights and batteries, battery-operated radio, candles and matches or lighter – Make a note of what you have and where you keep it.
• Shelf-stable food – Canned, dry foods and other non-perishables last the longest. MRE’s (Meals Ready-to-Eat for the military) are now available online, and they last for years. Food in your freezer will last up to 72 hours after the power goes off, if you minimize the number of times the freezer door is opened. (Read more about food supplies in Chapter 4.)
• Cooktops – Barbeque grills, camp stoves, butane tanks or other potable fuels can be used to make a warm meal.
• Medication – Jot down what you use on a regular basis and what you have on hand.
Your primary meeting place may very well be your home, but this may not be an available option. Some homes are more vulnerable than others… mobile homes are a high-risk refuge during tornados, low-lying homes are subject to floods during heavy storms, and wildfires present problems to homeowners in remote areas. If you live in a high-rise building choose a location that is close but at ground level. In all cases, be conservative when selecting your meeting locations.
Getting Home From Work
Consider how easy or difficult it will be to get to your primary meeting place from work. Does it really make sense to try to get there right away? Would it be better to stay at work or to find a safe place near work to hunker down until it’s safe to move to your primary meeting place? If you plan to stay at work or find a safe place near work, make sure everyone in your family knows that is your plan.
Getting Home From School
Coordinate your evacuation plans with school plans and be sure your children understand both. Make sure you understand what the school will do to protect your children while they are on campus. No matter their state of preparedness (or lack thereof) work that information into your own plans. For example:
• Will the children be kept in their classrooms, or will they be gathered in some central location on the school campus? If so, find out where.
• Will the school attempt to get the children home or will they keep them on campus? At what point will that decision be made and how will it be communicated to parents or guardians?
• If children are kept at the school, are you expected to pick them up immediately or wait until there is less chaos?
• If you come to pick them up, exactly where are you supposed to go? How will you find each other?
• If the school is forced to evacuate, to what location will they go?
• What form of identification will be required to allow you to pick up your children?
• What happens if you are not able to pick up your children?
• How do you make arrangements for someone else to pick them up?
If you have teenagers who drive themselves to school, help them plan what they will do in various emergency situations. Regardless of age, make sure each child knows the above information and review it with them periodically. Remember to keep emergency supplies in your car.