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Be Prepared for Severe Weather

— May 3, 2016

I was so excited to open my patio for the season that I haven’t even thought of whether my flashlights have batteries. So, as a reminder to us all, here are some things to do to be prepared for severe weather.

It’s no bigger a secret that it’s severe weather season in Texas than it is that the sky is blue or water is wet. Yet, life gets busy, the “To-Do” list grows faster than genetically-modified salmon and we forget to do certain things; important things such as reviewing our storm preparedness. I’ll be the first to confess, even though I write about it I haven’t gone through my supplies yet this season. Granted, I’m based in Michigan and the weather is different here, but we still get some pretty nasty surprises from Mother Nature this time of year. I was so excited to open my patio for the season that I haven’t even thought of whether my flashlights have batteries. So, as a reminder to us all, here are some things to do to be prepared for severe weather.

What do we need?

According to Amanda Bullard, assistant manager at Sutherlands’, sand bags are a hot item for those in flood-prone areas.

She says, “Typically every year when it rains, one of the things we sell the most is sand bags. We have just the empty bags or the full bags, but if there is an area that you know has flooded in the past, you can build a wall out of those sand bags to block the area off.”

She adds that batteries are another necessity and one that people often forget (like yours truly) to stock up on before storm season.

“Remember to check what batteries all the flashlights take in your house so you can stock up on those because there is nothing worse than your power going out and you realizing after the fact that you do not have any batteries. All the equipment does not do you any good,” reminds Ms. Bullard.

Speaking of battery-powered equipment, a weather radio specifically set to special weather broadcasting services or just a good old AM/FM radio is helpful as a means to keep informed if you lose power. Many of us rely on our Smartphones, but if it’s one of “those” moments when you have 10% battery power left and the lights go out… well, suffice to say, they won’t be very useful.

Storm kit; image courtesy of
Storm kit; image courtesy of

Other things to have:

  • Drinking water (gallon jugs are preferable), one gallon per person, per day
  • At least three days’ worth of non-perishable food items
  • Flashlights
  • First-aid kit
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Pet food and extra water for your pets
  • Formula, baby food, diapers and other supplies for infants

According to Lou Kreidler, Director of Health for Wichita Falls, Texas, there are problems beyond the obvious that flooded rivers can cause and it’s good to be prepared for them, too.

Mr. Kreidler said, “It is not so much the things you can see in the water that are dangerous to you, but it is those things you cannot see. When you have a river or drainage ditch that is flooded, that usually runs really swiftly, you will have a large number of snakes in that area, and the risk of contamination from downstream is high.”

In other words, avoid – if at all possible – flooded ditches and roadways.

Mr. Kreidler and Ms. Bullard had other advice, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of myself. These words of wisdom range from saving your garden to saving your life. The latter is obviously important, but so is the former if you’re someone who depends on your homegrown produce.

As Ms. Bullard put it, “You spend all the time bringing your little seedlings up and then start to get a good size. Then even just small amounts of hail will wipe them out. So that is something I would definitely encourage people to prepare for.” One suggestion is placing large buckets, weighted down with bricks, over the plants.

Mr. Kreidler added one that, again, never crossed my mind. He advised that we should have emergency document bags. These are waterproof protective bags that are perfect for keeping your ID cards, important legal documents and your medications safe.

He said, “A lot of times after a disaster or tornado, people will not have access to their medications. If the pharmacies are down, they are not going to look up their electronic records.

So it is really important to have extra medication, and have it in a safe place.”

These are just a few ideas on how to be prepared for severe weather. Do you have any you’d like to share? Place them in the comments to help out your fellow readers (and one writer whose “To-Do” list just grew another foot).


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