Prepping for severe storms could save a life

Published 8:16am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Although tornadoes are not terribly common in Carter County, strong thunderstorms can strike anywhere, anytime.
We are far from immune to hailstorms, wind storms, and flooding.
The violent weather that has spawned tornados to the north and south of the Volunteer State this week is a reminder that storms can be deadly, and they have the power to destroy a community.
At least 29 persons have been killed in storms that struck in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Iowa.
When weather alerts are issued by the National Weather Service, they are done so for a reason – so that residents of that area can be prepared to take actions that can save lives and property when tornadoes, storms, and flash flooding occur.
Many can remember the deadly flood of January 1998, in which five Carter Countians were swept to their deaths when the Doe River raged and overflowed its banks all the way from Roan Mountain to Elizabethton.
Tornadoes have also hit in neighboring counties, claiming lives in Johnson and Greene Counties.
Natural disasters know no political, socioeconomic or geographic boundary lines. They ravage upscale subdivisions as randomly as they do low income neighborhoods, farming communities and business districts.
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and while the vast majority of them are weak and short in duration, they can cause significant damage. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 2 percent of tornadoes fall under the most violent classification, meaning they can reach wind speeds of 205 mph or more.
We can’t avoid violent storms. But we can learn better ways to prepare and deal with their aftermath. The outbreak of spring storms this week is a reminder to pay attention to the weather and to take precautions to ensure our safety. A few simple steps now could mean the difference between life and death.
Prior to the arrival of a storm, you should take the following steps:
• Build an emergency kit. Your kit should include:
A three-day supply (minimum) of water and non-perishable food for each family member, first-aid supplies, personal hygiene items, portable radio, flashlight, fresh batteries, basic tools, work gloves, portable lanterns, prescription medications, extra car keys, extra cash, important contact numbers (such as medical centers, insurance agents, utilities, neighbors and family members), copies of important documents (such as identification, insurance policies, ownership certificates and banking information)
• Create and practice a plan of action for your family. Discuss where and how you will seek shelter during a storm, ensure that everyone is aware of the location of first-aid kits and fire extinguishers, and choose a place for your family to meet if you get separated. Establish a contact person to communicate with concerned relatives, and ensure that you know where and how to shut off utilities at the main switches or valves in the event of a disaster.
• Identify the safest area of your home, a place where you can take shelter when the storm hits. In most structures, this will be the basement or a small interior room without windows, such as a bathroom. In a high-rise building, seek out a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Close interior doors, and put as many walls between you and the storm as possible.
• Stay away from windows and doors when the storm arrives, and keep all exterior doors and windows closed to prevent rain and falling debris damage in your home’s interior.
• And, should flooding occur, never, never try to drive your vehicle on a flooded road.
We encourage you to make emergency preparedness part of your home safety program.

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