NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The recent severe storms and tornadoes that have occurred regionally should serve as a reminder to Louisiana residents that each household needs to have a disaster preparedness plan, said officials at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
GOHSEP and FEMA urge everyone to have disaster supplies ready, including:
- Flashlights and extra batteries;
- Sturdy shoes;
- Cash and credit cards;
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries;
- Emergency food, water and non-electric can opener; and
- First-aid kit and manual, essential medicines.
When a tornado approaches, there is just a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Planning and quick response are keys to survival.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when tornadoes are predicted in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. This is the ideal time to remind family members where the safest places within your home are located, and listen to the radio or television for further developments.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter immediately in a building with a strong foundation; move to an interior room such as a bathroom or hallway on the lowest floor, and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Stay away from windows. If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit.
Mobile homes and travel trailers, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. These homes can overturn quite easily, therefore these residents should plan to seek shelter in nearby buildings.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.