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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Weather Awareness Week

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appears in the March 27, 2005 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Are you prepared? Does your family know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency or severe weather? March 28 - April 1 is National Severe Weather Awareness Week. Think back one year ago and how fast the severe weather and tornado hit Lancaster County. We know many times there is little warning of these types of storms. Families can be prepared to cope with these disasters by preparing in advance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Red Cross suggest the following:

  • Get informed
  • Make a plan
  • Assemble a kit
  • Maintain your plan and kit

Get informed by knowing the type of disasters common in your area. In Nebraska we know tornados and flooding are hazards. Know the community warning signals and where you can get the information on watches and warnings.

A TORNADO WATCH .... weather conditions are right for the formation of tornadoes.

A TORNADO WARNING ... a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Tornado watches and warnings are issued as soon as conditions are identified.

Make a plan by meeting with your family members. Review information about disasters and how to prepare for them. Choose an “out-of-town” contact or relative to notify in-case of disaster. Choose a place for your family to meet, if separated. Have a place near your home in case of fire and one outside your neighborhood if you can’t return home. Have escape routes from your home and safe places in your home to go for all types of disasters (i.e. if a tornado approaches, go to the basement or the lowest floor of your home or an interior room or closet with no window). Draw out your escape plan and practice it. Also have a plan for your pets and those with disabilities or other special needs.

Assemble a disaster supply kit. This is a collection of basic items a family may need to stay safe and more comfortable during a disaster. The kit should be in a portable container(s) and as close as possible to the exit door. Review the contents at least once a year.

Items a kit can contain are:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and manual can opener.
  • Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day).
  • Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Sanitation and hygiene items (hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, and toilet paper).
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Extra clothing and blankets and/or sleeping bags.
  • Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils.
  • Photocopies of identification and credit cards.
  • Cash and coins.
  • Special needs items such as prescription medication, eye glasses, contact lens solution and hearing aid batteries.
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, etc.
  • Tools, pet supplies, a map of the local area and other items to meet your unique family needs.

Maintain your plan. Review your plan every six months. Check your kit supplies. Replace stored water and food every six months.

Other ways to be prepared include:

  • Know how to and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves.

  • Check fire extinguishers.

  • Check smoke alarms and if you don’t have them – install one on each level of your home.

  • Check to see if you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage and what it covers. Many policies do not cover flood damage and may not have full coverage for other hazards. Check with your insurance agent and make sure you have adequate coverage.

  • Inventory your home possessions – include photographs of the interior and exterior of your home as well as cars, boats, etc. Vital family record and other important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, deeds and financial, insurance and immunization records should also be kept in a safe deposit box or secure location so they survive disaster.

Take time this week to be prepared. Many places will also have practice drills this week.

More Severe Weather Resources

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