The severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that caused heavy damage and several deaths across Kentucky and Indiana March 3 served as a vivid reminder that being prepared before storms hit is crucial.
Winchester-Clark County Emergency Management Director Gary Epperson said spring is the prime season for severe weather outbreaks and being prepared for them beforehand many times can mean the difference between life and death.
“Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes sometimes without warnings. Most of the time we have a warning, but sometimes we don’t, so we want everybody to have a plan when the weather starts threatening,” Epperson said. “We want everybody this time of year to particularly pay attention to the weather. Know where you need to go if it’s tornadic activity, know a spot you can go to, either a basement, an inside hallway or bathroom, or a neighbor’s house.”
Clark County has severe weather warning sirens placed around the county to alert residents of bad weather, Epperson said, but many people have misconceptions about the purpose of the sirens and complain that they can’t be heard inside homes.
“We want everybody to understand what our warning sirens are. They’re called COWS, Clark Outdoor Warning Sirens, so when you hear the COWS, you move to safety,” Epperson said. “The sirens are designed to get people who are outside when severe weather is approaching to move inside. We don’t intend, and we didn’t make them, to warn people who are already inside ... so you might not hear them in your house.”
Epperson said with so many different means of getting severe weather warnings, no one should be caught off guard.
“There really is no reason for people to get blind sided by severe weather any more because we have so many alert systems,” Epperson said. “You’ve got television, radio stations, the National Weather Service, weather alert radios, multiple warning devices, so if you just stay alert, you will be safe.”
Having a disaster supply kit ready at all times is another necessity during severe weather season. Keep a bag filled with non-perishable food and water enough for each person, a medical kit and essential medicines.
“Always have a disaster kit. That way if your house is damaged or destroyed, you have food and water and the supplies to last you several days. You won’t be one of those victims left without your medications or food,” Epperson said.
Emergency Management has a hazardous weather preparation guide it passes out at local schools and around the community that contains a quick reference guide to help prepare residents for weather dangers. A copy of the guide is also available on the department’s website at www.clarkema.com.
“The weather guide contains valuable information that really can make a difference in you being prepared for bad weather or not. Don’t let yourself become a victim of severe weather because you’re not prepared,” Epperson said. “This first tornado was a warning. Late April and early May is when we have the most and worst storms in Kentucky, so we really are just beginning the severe weather season. So now is the time to get prepared and know where you will go if a storm comes.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.