COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Emergency Management Agency is urging residents to prepare ahead to protect themselves and their loved ones from dangerous storms.
Historically, Indiana has experienced some of the state’s worst thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding during the spring months. Whitley County Emergency Management suggests that households break their severe weather preparation into three parts: planning, preparing and practicing.
• Purchase a weather radio whose label indicates that it is “all-hazard” and broadcasts alerts from the National Weather Service. Look for “NOAA” on the label (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Also look for the SAME Technology designation, which allows the radios to be programmed to specific counties and types of alerts. Which is available for free through the Whitley County Emergency Management office.
• Know the difference between watches and warnings. A watch indicates a seriously increased possibility of a thunderstorm or tornado; a warning indicates that there is a thunderstorm or tornado in the area.
• Ensure that household members know which local news media outlets to monitor for severe weather alerts, and to take those alerts seriously. Remember that national cable, satellite or streaming TV services may not carry localized weather alerts.
• Create a preparedness kit that includes food and water for three days, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries, small tools and any other important items that are needed.
• Prune tree limbs and secure outdoor items that could be tossed about by high winds.
• Keep cell phones charged, and ensure all household members have several emergency contact numbers of friends and family members programmed in.
• Know which neighbors may have disabilities or mobility challenges, and be able to direct first responders to those who may need extra help.
• Take household members — quickly but calmly — to the location they would move to in severe weather, ideally a basement. If a basement is not available, go to an interior room on the lowest level with no windows. Storm cellars also offer excellent protection.
• Practice moving under a sturdy table or desk, or covering up with pillows, blankets, coats or a mattress to protect the head and body from flying debris.
• Walk through potential evacuation routes, both from the home and the neighborhood.
• Conduct a family drill in which children pretend to call 911 and calmly talk with an emergency dispatcher (a family member or friend can be on the other end of the line, requesting appropriate information).
Flooding is also an issue Hoosiers may encounter in the spring months. Driving on flooded roadways can often place Hoosiers and emergency response personnel in unnecessary danger. Never drive through flooded roadways, even if the water appears shallow. The road may have washed out under the surface of the water.
Purchasing flood insurance is one of the most cost-effective steps a homeowner can take to protect their home. For more information on purchasing flood insurance and other resources to help homeowners prepare their homes for a flood, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s FloodSmart website at FloodSmart.gov.
For more information on preparing for severe weather, visit GetPrepared.in.gov.