Deaths remind us to plan ahead

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Covington County residents were extremely fortunate that there were no injuries reported from the tornado that touched down in a 14-mile path early Saturday.

The same storm system claimed seven Alabama lives, and each of those who died was in a mobile home at the time.

As nearby as Damascus – just across the Escambia County line – four people who were in a mobile home that flipped several times were unharmed. A five-year-old was among those who crawled out of the damaged home.

All of these events serve to remind us of the importance of making a storm plan long before the storm sirens tell us that possible tornadoes have been sited.

“When the sirens went off, there were numerous calls to (the EMA office) and to 911 by people who lived in a mobile home who wanted to know where to go,” EMA director Susan Harris said. “At that point, when the weather is on us and the sirens are sounding, there’s no way we can help them.”

The NOAA weather service offers these suggestions for weather plans:

• At home, have a family tornado plan in place, based on the kind of dwelling you live in. If you live in a mobile home, consider going to the home of a neighbor or relative in the event of a tornado watch.

• Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds, and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year. Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster.

• Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds’ notice.

• When a tornado watch is issued, think about the drill and check to make sure all your safety supplies are handy. Turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.