Each person has a role to play in preparedness. Here are several ways to prepare yourself and your family for severe weather season.
We encourage everyone to create a personal severe weather plan before severe weather strikes, so you are alerted and know what to do. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about how to react to severe weather. While we understand the importance of social distancing, the National Weather Service and Emergency Management agree that during a Tornado Warning, the first priority should be protection from a potential tornado even if this means temporarily breaking social distancing.
Here are the key parts of your severe weather plan:
One of the first steps to preparedness is knowing the difference between watches and warnings. This will help you determine which actions to take for your safety.
WATCHES are issued when a specific hazard is possible during a specific time range.
WARNINGS are issued when a specific hazard is or is believed to be occurring.
No matter what method you choose, be sure you have more than 1 way to get severe weather alerts just in case one does not work. Here are a few suggestions.
Weather radios are a cost effective and reliable method to receive notice of impending weather.
⦁ Have battery back-up.
⦁ Equipped with a special alarm tone that will give immediate information about a weather, natural or man-made emergency, or a life–threatening situation.
⦁ Can be programmed for your specific county.
⦁ The hearing and visually impaired can get these warnings by connecting weather radios with alarm tones, strobe lights, pagers, bed-shaker’s, etc.
When a warning is issued for your area, take the following safety precautions:
You may not always be in a familiar place when severe weather strikes. Any time severe weather is possible, use the information above to identify a good shelter before the storms arrive. You can also ask the manager or a similar person where their shelter is located.
Douglas County does not have community tornado shelters. Some community members use open public buildings as their shelter. Call ahead before the severe weather event to determine the hours of operation for any location you plan to use. Do not assume that location will be open. This could be very dangerous. If you plan to leave your home, give yourself plenty of time to get to your shelter location.
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, and Douglas County has experienced a number of flooding and flash flooding events in recent years.
Identify and Reduce Your Flood Risk:
Steps to take before a flood:
During the Flood/Flash Flood Warning:
Driving Tips: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto related!
Why is preparedness important?
Fires, water main breaks, and power outages are all possible interruptions to your regular schedule which many only impact you or your neighborhood. Floods, tornadoes, winter storms, and heat waves are natural disasters which can impact a much larger population for an extended period of time. All who live and work in Douglas County are subject to these and other man-made and disease-related emergencies which can happen with little notice and can change the course of your day or year. Taking steps to be prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany emergencies.
What is your role in an emergency or disaster?
Emergency Services and government agencies may not be able to respond to your needs immediately. Their buildings, equipment, communications, mobility, and personnel, may be severely hampered by the emergency or disaster event or they may need to focus efforts elsewhere. Local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to take steps to ready yourself and your family for the emergency. Everyone needs to be prepared to survive on your own for a minimum of 3 days, and in some cases you may need to be able to stay home for 10 days.
While we cannot control natural disasters, emergencies, or unexpected events, we can be prepared, and we can protect ourselves and our families. Taking time to plan and prepare will help you and your family lessen the impact an emergency has on you. The most important concept in developing a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan is communication. Every member of the family needs to be involved so that when disaster strikes, everyone will know what to do, and how to keep in touch. How well you manage the aftermath of a disaster depends a great deal on how well you prepare today—before the disaster strikes!
Here are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family:
How can I learn more?
Douglas County Emergency Management offers a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) weekend course, typically twice a year. The CERT training is designed to help you help others in the first seventy-two (72) hours of an event. By taking the CERT class, you will gain knowledge and skills to prepare yourself for emergencies and may be able to provide basic emergency response assistance in a disaster to family members, co-workers or neighbors. Read more or register here.
Why is preparedness important for my business?
Businesses face a wide variety of hazards which can impact or interrupt your operations.
What is my role, as a business, in preparedness?
Each business can takes steps to lessen the impact of an emergency on their staff, customers and operations.
What else should I consider?
Your emergency plan is the start of getting your business ready for an emergency - both specific to your business or a community-wide disaster. Next, consider working through a Continuity of Operations Plan. Basically, what will you do when your business is interrupted - short term or long term. What's most important to get up and running, can you operate elsewhere, how do you communicate with staff, etc. Here's a guide. We're also more than happy to help guide you in the process. Your business is important to you, your staff, your customers and your community! We want to help make sure you are ready to recover following an emergency! Join us in getting prepared.
While tornadoes seem to take a lot of the focus during severe weather conversations, thunderstorm winds are the more common cause of damage. That's why we are taking a deeper look at Thunderstorms.
What is a Thunderstorm?
A thunderstorm is formed from a combination of moisture, rapidly rising warm air and a force capable of lifting air such as a warm and cold front, a sea breeze or a mountain. All thunderstorms contain lightning.
Thunderstorms may occur singly, in clusters or in lines. Thus, it is possible for several thunderstorms to affect one location in the course of a few hours.
Severe thunderstorms are capable of producing either damaging winds (58 mph or greater) and large hail (1 inch or greater).
Lightning is fascinating to watch but also extremely dangerous. In the United States, there are about 25 million lightning flashes every year. Understanding the dangers of lightning is important so that you can get to a safe place when thunderstorms threaten. If you hear thunder--even a distant rumble or a crackling aloft--you are already in danger.
What is Lightning?
Lightning is an electrical discharge that results from the buildup of positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. When the buildup becomes strong enough, lightning appears as a “bolt”. This flash of light usually occurs within the clouds or between the clouds and the ground. A bolt of lightning reaches a temperature approaching 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a split second. The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning causes thunder.
Lightning and Thunderstorm Safety: