Prepare for worst

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Ten years ago today, the fields surrounding Andalusia where white - and cotton had nothing to do with it. The Storm of the Century in 1993 - on a Friday the 13th, appropriately enough, brought winter far deeper and stronger into the south that it had seen in decades, or has seen since. From Florida to New York, we were paralyzed in white. The New Yorkers were used to it - they were prepared.

Were we? No.

While it is hard to prepare for the storm of the century while it still remains a big "if' in the future, there are precautions everyone can take. Not every year is an "El Nio" year, not every cold front is going to dump three feet of snow and ice just weeks before Easter, but we can make some safe assumptions. Snow and ice are not limited to the "traditional" winter months of December, January and February; in fact, when we do get the freezes, they tend to happen as often in March as in December. Just because the flowers are blooming doesn't mean we are safe from one last

We can prepare for other bad weather conditions as well. Spring is tornado season - do you have a safety plan for your family? Do your children know the safest place in the house to hide when a twister passes over? Do you keep extra batteries, flashlights and bottles of water in a safe place?

With the recent rains we've had, flooding is another issue; and, of course, hurricane season can always start early. The key to surviving any unexpected and catastrophic weather even is trying to expect it anyway - and knowing what to do when it happens. There are many sources of information. The E-911 office has flyers and pamphlets on hurricane and tornado safety, first aid and more. The American Red Cross has endless resources of what to do before, during and after storms.

Firefighters, police, rescue unites - all first responders can offer advice and assistance.

Enjoy today - there might be scattered thunderstorms, but the temperature should reach about 77 degrees - a far cry from that chilly surprise 10 years ago. But don't let the warmth fool you. The weather can change quickly and drastically with little warning, so expect the unexpected.