CHICAGO, Ill. -- Sunday marked the start of the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are joining together to help save lives from severe weather by delivering the following important message to the public: know your risk, take action, and be a Force of Nature by taking proactive emergency preparedness measures and inspiring others to do the same.
"Severe weather can strike with little or no warning and you may only have seconds to make life and death decisions," said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA regional administrator. "Preparing now can ensure you’re ready when severe weather strikes. Start by knowing your risk, take action by making your emergency plans and once you are prepared, encourage friends and neighbors to be prepared too."
Just one year ago this week, the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history stuck the central and southern United States with more than 300 tornadoes that claimed hundreds of lives. The historic outbreak was only one of many weather-related tragedies, and 2011 now holds the record for the greatest number of multi-billion dollar weather-related disasters in the nation’s history.
Already this year, the Midwest and other portions of the country have experienced several waves of early and destructive severe storm and tornado outbreaks. The impacts of these events are a reminder that everyone should be prepared for the hazards faced in their communities. We are headed into May, the peak month for tornadoes in the U.S, which means now is the time to make preparedness a personal and national priority.
To "be a force of nature," NOAA and FEMA encourage citizens to prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:
- Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for alerts from your local emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms, and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
- Take action: Pledge to develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter before a severe weather event. Create or refresh an emergency kit for needed food, supplies and medication. Post your plan in your home where family and visitors can see it. Learn community evacuation routes. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. Download FEMA’s mobile app so you can access important safety tips on what to do before and during severe weather. Understand the weather warning system and become a certified storm spotter through the National Weather Service.
- Be a force of nature: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered with your social media network. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting – be one of those sources. When you seek shelter after a warning, text, tweet or update your status so your friends and family will know you are safe. You might just save their lives by encouraging others to seek safety too. For more information on how you can prepare for severe weather, visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather