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Community Safety

Severe Weather Experts Say Having A Specific Plan Is Key: Here’s What To Include.

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NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory
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From tornadoes to floods, the Ozarks region is known for its changing weather—especially this time of year. That’s one reason emergency officials say planning ahead is key for when the sky turns grey.

Greene County Department of Emergency Management director Larry Woods says the best time to prepare for severe weather is well before it occurs.

“You know we have the grey sky days. Those are the days when the storms are coming and we really need to have our plan in place, and we have the blue sky days. So we always try and impress on folks, ‘hey, make your plan during the blue sky days. Know what you’re going to do so when the grey skies happen, you’re ready to go,’” Woods said.

Woods said it’s a good idea for a household to print out a plan and pin it somewhere central, like on the refrigerator. Have a kit ready with flashlights, batteries, a radio, food and water. 

A plan should take into consideration everyone in the home.

“The key to the whole thing is just communicating it effectively. Ensuring that everyone knows that in a particular circumstance, such as a tornado, ‘if we’re inside the house, where do we go? Where do we take refuge? Do we have a basement? Do we not have a basement? Do we have an outdoor storm shelter? Do we have none of that? Are we going to the most interior room in the house? What does that look like?’ And just making sure everyone knows what that plan is, and then executing that plan on those grey sky days,” Woods said.

Other things to keep in an emergency kit are a whistle, cell phone chargers, first aid supplies and sanitary wipes.

Woods said NOAA Weather Radios are an excellent way to learn of specific warnings in your area. These small devices activate only when severe weather comes around. He recommends keeping a weather radio in a bedroom. 

As for people who rely only on outdoor sirens, Woods says it’s important to remember that those are actually designed to be heard outdoors.

“These sirens are actually designed as outdoor devices. If you live close to one, and you’re in your well insulated house at 3 o’clock in the morning, then there’s a very strong possibility that you’re going to be able to hear it inside your house, but they’re not designed for that. They’re designed to warn people out of doors in sports stadiums and public parks and parking lots and etc.,” Woods said.

And it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast.