Be prepared for season’s storms

Published 12:25 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

By Staff
This past weekend's storms not only woke us up during the night literally, but reminded us that it is better to be prepared in the face of violent weather.
The American Red Cross is urging to get ready now for tornado season as it appears the season is already begun with the ravaged areas seen in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois, over the weekend.
Eight chapters of the Red Cross are providing emergency relief to these five states.
"By preparing together for tornado season, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," said Terri Franklin, director of Communications for the Kalamazoo Chapter serving Cass County. "We can help families create tornado preparedness plans now, so they're ready when their community is threatened by severe weather."
The difference between being prepared or not, could be the difference between life or death.
These steps offered by the Red Cross should be taken to help your family face severe weather:
Creating and Practicing a Home Tornado Plan: Pick an uncluttered place where family members could seek shelter: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom, or a closet on the lowest floor.
Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.
Heeding Storm Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety.
Preparing for High Winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors.
Strengthen garage doors and un-reinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trashcans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
Tornado preparedness is just one application of the American Red Cross' overall Together We Prepare Initiative. The Initiative urges individuals, families and organizations to better prepare for all types of emergencies or disasters by taking five specific actions:
Make A Plan - an outline of what you will do in different emergency situations.
Build A Kit - food, water, radio and batteries, medications and other emergency items.
Get Trained - take a Red Cross First Aid/CPR class and other safety training.
Give Blood - a stable blood supply is vital to help meet any emergency needs.
Volunteer - with the American Red Cross or other human service organizations.