EMA: Awareness week great time to plan how to react when weather strikes

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, February 19, 2019

This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Alabama this week, and Covington County Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris has some tips on how locals can be best prepared when severe weather strikes.

“First of all people need to have a plan,” Harris said. “People need to have a kit as well and they need to have a way of getting their information. Having multiple ways of getting information is key. People don’t need to depend on just one source for their information. Whether it be an A.M./F.M. radio, NOAA Weather Radios, different apps that you can download on your phone, people need to have several ways of getting up to date information.”

One thing that worries people in the county is that there are no public shelters, Harris said.

“People need a safe place to go to,” Harris said. “We have a lot of issues when the public doesn’t plan for having a safe place until it is too late, unfortunately. People need to make sure they have a place safe to go because we don’t have a public shelter in the county. If people live in a mobile home they need to go to a friend’s house or a brick house because that is safer than a trailer. Just go to the safest place that you can find and go to the center most part of the home, or basement if you have one.”

Covington County hasn’t had any major damage by severe weather in the past years, but Harris wants to make sure that people realize that it could happen here.

“Just look at all of the major tornadoes that have come through North Alabama,” Harris said. “It left people without several things, so if people are prepared, it will definitely help in the long run. People just need to take the time to think about it and get prepared.”

Harris said that people usually wait too long before the severe weather hits and that is a problem.

“It seems like right in the midst of the warnings is when people want to start making plans,” Harris said. “And you have got to do it before then.”

In Alabama, the peak months for severe weather are March, April and May.

“We are about to be right in the middle of peak season,” Harris said. “We always see more tornadoes during these months and people need to be aware of that.”

This coming weekend is the 2019 Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday and Harris said that this is a perfect time to stock up on all of the necessary items for a kit.

“This is a great opportunity to buy some items, because you will get a little break on them,” Harris said.

According to ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

• Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

• Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert

• Flashlight

• First aid kit

• Extra batteries

• Whistle to signal for help

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

• Manual can opener for food

• Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Knowing what is going on around the county, weather wise, could distinguish between life or death, Harris said.

“It is very important to be aware of severe weather,” Harris said. “And it’s not just tornadoes either, it is any of our severe weather coming through, such as lightning. Lightning is the number one killer, so being prepared and knowing what the weather is could mean life or death.”

Harris said information about preparing for severe weather is being posted on the local EMA Facebook page daily this week.