Preparing for severe weather
This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa, which stresses the importance of being prepared when severe weather happens.
“Weather incidents happen year-round,” said Washington County Emergency Management coordinator Larry Smith. “People need to have readiness kits available and ready when a weather incident happens.”
The kit should include at least 72 hours of provisions, Smith said.
“One gallon of water a day, enough food to last you a couple of days, cash on hand, and a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio with a battery backup,” he said.
People should also be prepared for loss of power during weather incidents, Smith said.
“In the winter during an ice storm First Responders can get to you and check on you, but you may be without power for a couple of days,” he said. “ATMs won’t work to get cash from. Your Internet and cell phone may be out of service, too. It’s important for people to be prepared for that.”
The readiness kit should also include a contact list, Smith said.
“If your cell phone is not functional you should have a hard copy of phone numbers on hand,” he said. “Nowadays, with cell phones people don’t write numbers down and there’s no backup if you lose your cell phone. Write down those numbers and keep them with you.”
Residents should also be aware of the weather conditions happening around them.
“Check the weather in the morning before you leave to go somewhere,” he said. “Also, remember a watch means there is a potential for severe weather to happen. A warning means severe weather is going to happen.”
As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week Smith said counties across the state will be testing their outdoor warning systems. During this time businesses should review their emergency plans as well as residents, he said.
“Have a meeting place set up and know who to contact when an emergency happens,” Smith said.
Another suggestion Smith has for residents is to sign up for the Washington County wireless county emergency network system (WENS) through the Washington County Communications Center.
“They will send out text messages, voicemails, and e-mails for actual warnings,” Smith said, “not for watches.”
For more information about what to have in a readiness kit and Severe Weather Awareness Week people can go to beready.iowa.gov, Smith said.