NWS observes ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’

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Photo Courtesy: Chris Spannagle – Tornado near Manitou, OK , Nov. 7, 2011

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — It’s “Severe Weather Awareness Week” and the best way you can observe it is to have a safety plan in place for you and your family.

The National Weather Service is marking Severe Weather Awareness Week 2019, which runs Oct. 20 – Oct. 26, by reminding people what they should do when there is a severe weather threat.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is an excellent time to review safety plans. This should be done by all communities, with the help of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, churches, businesses, and civic organizations.

It should also be done by every family, ensuring that each member knows how to be safe when severe weather threatens.

A good way to insure that plans are adequate and can be activated in a timely manner is to test them with drills.

Severe thunderstorms can form in only a matter of minutes, bringing with them large hail, damaging winds, dangerous tornadoes, and deadly lightning.

These storms can also produce very heavy rain, dropping several inches in the space of an hour, which can lead to deadly flash flooding.

You must be able to get to your shelter area quickly – you may only have seconds to act.

Your first step to surviving severe weather is to develop a plan before storms develop.

NWS also encourages everyone to develop a Tornado Safety Kit. These items would be very useful to have in your storm shelter or to take with you into your shelter when severe weather strikes. Here’s what you will need:

  • Disaster Supply Kit – You store your emergency supplies as close to your shelter as possible.
  • Battery-Operated Weather Radio – You will need to be able to monitor the latest information directly from your National Weather Service
  • A Map to Track Storms — You will need to track the progress of the storm. Since warning texts, including parish names, a parish outline map of your area is a great thing to keep handy. You might also want to keep a state highway map, which includes most of the cities and towns referred to in NWS warnings and statements.
  • Battery-Operated TV and/or Radio – This will allow you to monitor news and severe weather information if you lose electrical power.
  • Shoes – This will be very important if you have damage and you must walk across broken glass or other debris!
  • Identification – You may need identification to move around in the area should significant damage occur.
  • Car Keys – Keep an extra set in your shelter area in case your car remains drivable.
  • Cell Phone – However, remember that cell phone service may be interrupted after a tornado or other disaster

Other Things to Consider

If you have a safe room or other shelter area, you might consider storing important papers and other irreplaceable items in the shelter if space permits. Check and replace batteries in your weather radio, battery-powered TV/radio, flashlights, and other devices often in your safety kit, preferably twice a year. Do this when we set clocks back and ahead in the spring and fall, and when you replace smoke detector batteries. Check your disaster supplies kit often to maintain fresh food and water.

Make sure you have something to cover up with. Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, a mattress could help to protect you from falling/flying debris. Above all protect your head, neck and upper body. Wear a helmet (bicycle, football, baseball, motorcycle, hard hat, etc) if you have one. If there’s room, lie flat and cover-up. Otherwise, get as low to the ground as possible and make as small a target as possible.

Unfortunately, there are no safety rules – absolute safety facts that will keep you safe 100% of the time. Instead, we offer guidelines for personal safety. The vast majority of tornadoes are weak and don’t last very long. By following the guidelines included in this document, you and your family can survive a tornado. These tornado safety guidelines should reduce, but will not totally eliminate, your chances of being seriously injured or killed in a tornado.

The good news is that you can survive most tornadoes. The key to survival is planning – knowing what you need to do to be safe before a tornado threatens.

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