Plan ahead for severe weather

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Anyone who has lived in Texas for a few seasons has seen just how quickly weather conditions can change here. There really is a lot of truth to one of our favorite old sayings: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes and it will change.”

Unfortunately, you might not like the change all that much. In many cases — especially during spring and early summer — Texas weather can bring hazardous conditions that threaten lives and result in widespread property damage.

Each year, thousands of people across the state are impacted by severe weather threats such as tornadoes and thunderstorms that bring high winds, lightning, hail and flooding.

We’re all seeking peace of mind, but since we can’t control where or when the next weather disaster might strike, how can we prepare ourselves and our loved ones for emergencies?

That’s the purpose of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which runs through Saturday. A partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, this effort is designed to increase awareness of severe weather and to motivate individuals and communities to take action and be prepared.

The observance is timed perfectly this year, since weather forecasters are citing the potential for storms this weekend, but the importance of being informed about and prepared for changing weather conditions should be a priority throughout the year.

Sure, the potential for storms may be traditionally higher during certain months, but seasoned Texans know that the skies can darken at any time.

It pays to check the weather forecast regularly — like we said, conditions can change in a heartbeat, and sunny skies in the morning don’t guarantee smooth sailing throughout the day. If you’ve got a weather application on your smartphone, use it, and tune in your radio or television to a station that gives regular updates. A battery-powered or hand-cranked weather radio is a great investment, and make sure everyone in the family knows how to operate it.

Another precaution is to put together an emergency supply kit that includes that weather radio we just mentioned, flashlights, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and nonperishable food items — anything that might come in handy if the sky goes black, the weather sirens sound and the power fails.

If you have small children, make sure the kit includes a couple of comforting toys to keep them occupied — and you may want to put together an extra emergency pack for your vehicle.

It’s also a good idea to make a family emergency plan and practice it. Be sure everyone knows what to do if disaster strikes, including the best places to seek shelter outside and inside the home. Since all family members may not be in the same location when a storm strikes, make sure everyone knows how to contact other family members and how to get back together after the trouble passes. Make sure everyone is well-versed in reporting emergencies and knows where to seek help.

It’s a good idea to have working fire extinguishers close at hand, and all family members should be taught when and how to use them.

Other tips on preparing for hazardous weather can be found at www.ready.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather.

Severe weather season is here, so make sure your family is ready. You never know what that rapidly changing Texas weather will do next.

 


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