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Just about everyone I’ve talked to lately says how tired they are of our cold weather and that they are ready for spring.  We all look forward to the days of sunshine, warm breezes and fresh air.

We need to remember, though, that the spring season also brings the possibilities of severe weather and take some time to plan ahead to keep ourselves and our families safe.  This is Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week – March 18-24, 2018 and a perfect time to remind ourselves how to keep safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds us that severe thunder storms and tornadoes are much more prevalent at this time of the year and it is important to have a safety plan in place.  Some of their suggestions include:

  • If you are inside your house or other building:
    • Identify shelter locations well before the storm hits.
    • Seek a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from doors, windows, and outside walls.
    • Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris.
    • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs.
  • If you are outside:
    • Try to seek shelter in a nearby building if you can.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in your car.
    • If there is a low lying area such as a ditch nearby, you can lie down in that area and cover your head with your arms.
  • If you are in your workplace
    • It is a good idea to have a plan that everyone in the building has practiced.
    • Know who is in the office so that everyone can be accounted for before and after the storm.
  • Have an emergency contact plan for your family or coworkers. Designate one number that everyone should call to connect.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has created documents that can help us all better prepare for these severe weather occurrences.  They provide definitions to explain the difference between watches and warnings and appropriate measures to take with each level of warning.

Take the time to make a plan for your family and co-workers as we enter this time of the year when severe weather can strike at a moment’s notice.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Natural Disasters and Severe Weather. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/prepared.HTML

Federal Emergency Management Agency. How to Prepare for a Tornado. (https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409003506195-52740fd2983079a211d041f7aea6b85d/how_to_prepare_tornado_033014_508.PDF

The American Red Cross . Be Red Cross Ready.

http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240190_Be_Red_Cross_Ready.pdf

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thunder stormDo you know what to do in a tornado, thunderstorm, fire or flood?  How about your children?  What if you are not home?  Do you have an emergency plan?  These are some difficult questions.  Now is a good time to start teaching your children how to be prepared.

The first step in developing a severe weather safety plan for your family is to determine the potential weather risks for your area. Once the potential hazards are identified, you can begin your plan. This should include:

  • Where to meet. Select a place in your home and practice with the children before a storm comes. If your family is forced from your home, determine an alternate meeting place, such as a school, community center or fire station. Share this information with caregivers as well.
  • Put together a safety and survival kit. You will want to include such things as water, nonperishable food, battery operated radio, flashlight, batteries, and blankets. The National Weather Service provides a detailed list of items you need.
  • Make a “safe place bag” with some items that can console a worried child. Things such as a toy or two, coloring books, a favorite stuffed animal, a couple books, and a battery operated radio/CD player.
  • Determine how you receive weather warnings and track the storm. Purchasing a battery operated weather radio will allow you to monitor the storm.
  • Establish some form of communication. While cell phones are the most likely way to reach loved ones, you also need to consider what to do if cell phone towers are damaged and not functioning.

Research tells us children that come from secure homes and families will be more prepared to tolerate any stressors, including severe weather.  Knowledge and understanding reduces fear, so empowering your children with a plan to react will help help them in a stressful time.  Begin at an early age to talk to children about weather.  Educate them about storms, dispel myths, and discuss reasonable safety measures.  Develop a family weather plan.  It will help them feel more in control and less helpless.

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

 

 

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