Severe weather awareness week approaching

Staff report

Spring is rapidly approaching and so is the chance of adverse weather conditions. Being prepared for the possibility of a tornado or other weather event could save you or your family’s lives. With that in mind, Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 20-26. All businesses, public buildings and residents should review, test and make any necessary changes to their respective safety plans during that time frame.

According to Mike Bailey, director of the Richland County Emergency Management Agency, there will also be a Statewide Tornado Drill held on March 23 which will allow all government agencies around the state (including Richland County) to test their notification systems. Residents and businesses should obtain an emergency weather radio which would be activated in the event of an impending weather event. These radios are life savers and can be purchased at local retailers or at the Richland County Emergency Management Office for a price of $23. If you presently have a weather radio, please make sure that your backup battery (usually a 9-volt battery located on the bottom) is current.

Tornado Safety:

* Know what to do before, during and after an emergency.

* Develop a disaster plan and practice the plan.

* Build an emergency disaster kit which should include bottled water, non-perishable food that doesn’t need cooking, flashlights and extra batteries, battery-powered NOAA radio or regular AM/FM radio, a whistle to signal for help, moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation, first aid supplies including needed medicines, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities and plenty of water and food for your pets.

* Know Your Terms:

Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado. Move to a safe location and monitor for weather updates.

Particularly Dangerous Situation Watch (PDS) – sometimes used by the National Weather Service in rare situations when long-lived, strong and violent tornados are possible.

Tornado Warning – Tornado is imminent or occurring. Seek shelter immediately.

Tornado Emergency – An exceedingly rare tornado warning or statement issued if there is a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from an imminent or ongoing tornado. Seek shelter immediately.

NOTE – Be aware of outdoor warning sirens being activated. Richland County has 42 warning sirens strategically located throughout the county. If you hear a siren which has been activated, seek shelter and tune into a local radio or television station for further details.

* Know Where To Go:

Remember the acronym DUCK:

D – Go DOWN to the lowest level

U – Get UNDER something sturdy like a staircase or table

C – COVER your head

K – KEEP in the shelter until the storm has passed

If in your home when severe weather strikes, go to the lowest level as close to the center of the room as possible.

At work or school, go to the inside wall on the lowest floor such as interior bathrooms or closets.

In mobile homes, get out and seek shelter in a designated storm shelter or the lowest floor of a nearby building.

In vehicles, never try to outrun a tornado. If possible, seek shelter in a nearby sturdy building. If you cannot get into a building, stay in your vehicle with your seat belt fastened or exit the vehicle and get lower than the existing grade of the road, lying flat in a ditch and covering your head with your hands.

“Your safety is paramount. Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions at 419-774-5686,” Bailey said. “Be prepared and stay safe.”

Staff report