Many States Holding Severe Weather Preparedness Week
The strongest and deadliest tornado zone on earth stretches from Little Rock AK to Birmingham AL, with North Mississippi being right in the middle of the melee. In 2011, 42 people were killed by twisters and another 300 injured during severe weather outbreaks. It is because of the seriousness of this threat that Mississippi, along with several other states, has chosen this week to be Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
“Mississippi is at or near the top of nearly all tornado statistics including total tornadoes, strong to violent tornadoes and long track tornadoes,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Wilkinson. “Tornado statistics from the last 60 years also show that the frequency of tornadoes increases rapidly from the middle of February all the way through April. We are quickly approaching the peak season, so we encourage residents to remain aware of weather forecasts so they can be prepared and stay safe.”
According to Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, “Being unprepared can jeopardize your safety or even your life. It is therefore important to learn what steps to take in order to stay safe when severe weather threatens your area. Some simple actions and a little planning can save your life.”
Residents are recommended to have one or more methods by which to receive severe weather warnings, such as a weather radio, a local phone-based warning system such as Code RED or any number of mobile device apps that are available for this purpose.
It is also important to have a disaster plan in place for every home, as MEMA claims this is a sure way to protect lives. When it comes to severe weather, it becomes a matter of when, not if, it ever happens again, and better education about the risks involved will invariably lead to better preparedness.
The National Weather Service also conducts statewide tornado drills using the Emergency Alert System, and schools, government agencies, and businesses throughout the state are encouraged to take part. Doing so makes sure that all students and employees of these establishments are familiar with the safety protocols that are to be enacted during a severe weather event.
MEMA encourages all homes and businesses to have an emergency kit available for a variety of scenarios. Recommended items for this kit include flashlights with spare batteries, AM/FM radio, NOAA weather radio, drinking water, and nonperishable food items for a three day period, first aid, prescription medications, bedding, clothing, utensils, and rainwear. Sunscreen, sunglasses, mosquito repellant, sanitary supplies, toiletries, important documents, and cash, as well as a generator, are also recommended. It is a lot of items to gather, but also absolutely necessary for severe weather situations that knock out power for extended periods.
For more threatening situations, an evacuation plan should be in place, complete with a planned destination and an out of state contact to be able to call and let them know that everyone is okay. All family members should be familiar with this plan.