With the return of spring on March 20, it's time again to prepare for the threat of severe weather. April 5-9, 2010, has been designated Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa to encourage people to plan and prepare for the upcoming severe weather season.
The first step you and your family should take is to create a plan of action. What will you do if a thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued while you're at home, school or at work? Do you know where your shelters are located? When you get your plan put together, be sure to practice it frequently. A good time to practice that plan will be on April 7 when Iowa conducts a statewide tornado drill. Cherokee County will sound all sirens during the tornado drill.
Creating an emergency kit should be your next step. You should have enough supplies for your family for up to 3 days. Some suggested items include: one gallon of water, per person, per day; toilet paper; a simple first aid kit; a variety of canned foods with a manual can opener; comfort foods (ie: chocolate); a seven day supply of medications; a note pad and pens to write down important information; a blanket for every family member; flashlight with batteries; a list of important phone numbers; a NOAA weather radio; paper towels; baby supplies or any other special needs items for your family members. Keep your supplies in water proof totes, as they will be easy to transport should you need to leave your home.
All communities within Cherokee County will be sounding their sirens during the state-wide tornado drill on April 7. So what should you do if you hear the sirens? First and foremost, get to your shelter immediately! Take your weather radio or commercial radio with you for information.
DO NOT CALL 9-1-1 to find out why the sirens are sounding. Listen to the local radio stations or to a NOAA weather radio for information. These sources will also let you know when the danger has passed so you can leave your shelter. If you hear the sirens sound again, remain in your shelter. Authorities will NEVER sound an all-clear siren. If the siren sounds again, that means the storm is still approaching or another storm is coming after the first.
Everyone must always take weather watches and warnings seriously. A watch means that the conditions mentioned may occur in the watch area. A warning means that the conditions ARE occurring, or they are very likely to occur in the warned area.
For more information on weather safety and how you can be prepared for the upcoming severe weather season, you may call the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency at 712-225-6721, or visit the Iowa Emergency Management Association website at www.iowaema.com.