SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The ArkLaTex is no stranger to severe weather threats and the damage and power outages storms can cause. Your first step to surviving severe weather is to develop a plan before storms develop.

SWEPCO Senior Communication Consultant Karen Wissing says having a plan is essential when it comes to being prepared for power outages.

“Reach out to your families, your friends, your neighbors, and those with medical devices, and make sure there’s a plan in place should there be an extended outage.”

Keeping updated on the latest severe weather alerts is also critical.

“So, when it comes to severe weather, information is power, and that’s one of the reasons we often talk about ways to receive severe weather warnings,” said Meteorologist Aaron Davis with the National Weather Service Shreveport. “In this day and age, most of the time, an emergency alert will come across your phone, the WEA [Wireless Emergency Alerts] will go off but also a severe weather radio. Those are always handy to have.”

Get exclusive severe weather details on storms as they approach your area by downloading the Arklatex Weather Authority app now available in the App Store and Google Play

Wissing says SWEPCO also offers text alerts and updates.

“Also, we’ve enhanced our outage text alerts to where, if we text you saying you have a power outage, and it’s been restored but your lights still aren’t on, you can text us back and let us know and so we will update our system accordingly.”

The National Weather Service 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. Make sure to turn on your emergency wireless alerts on your device to receive tornado and flash flood warnings.

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.

Your safe place: In the event of a tornado warning, be sure to get to the lowest level of your home. Put as many walls between yourself and the outside. Being in a mobile home is not an ideal place when a tornado is approaching. If you live in a mobile home, you should leave and find a more sturdy structure to take shelter in.

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.

The threat does not end after the storms, as deaths and serious injuries often happen in the days and after the storms are gone. Stay away from downed power lines and operate generators outdoors only and in well-ventilated areas. Use caution during cleanup, from power tools and machinery to reducing risks of falls by using safety precuations and never working alone.

Unfortunately, there are no 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.