The best defense when faced with severe weather warnings is preparedness. Every household and business should have a disaster preparedness plan for natural and man-made disasters. The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness offers the following tips on preparation for inclement weather.
Have a family meeting. Involve everyone in the household in the preparation of a disaster plan. Discuss the types of disasters that can affect you and your home. Ensure that everyone knows the difference between weather watches and warnings. Write down solutions for each kind of emergency. Plan how to care for your pets following a disaster.
Develop a family escape and/or shelter plan. Draw an overhead floor plan view of your home. Determine two escape routes per room. Teach children how to open windows and screens. Pick a meeting place outside of the home (a large tree of neighbor's yard) in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. Determine where to shelter during a tornado (in a basement, centralized closet or bathroom).
Practice your plan. Even the best plan is ineffective unless it has been practiced. Conduct fire drills. Activate smoke detectors when the household is asleep. Conduct tornado drills. Practice how to protect yourself and others during severe storms.
Organize your disaster preparedness kit. No matter the incident, your kit should have enough supplies to sustain every member of your household for three days.
For the home: NOAA weather radio, flashlight, batteries, nonperishable foods, bottled water and juices, manual can opener, first aid kit, prescription drugs, sleeping bags, important family documents, cash/credit cards, important phone numbers.
For the car: fire extinguishers, tools, first aid kit, sleeping bags or blankets, bottled water, high-energy snacks, flashlight, batteries, battery-operated radio, cell phone, cash/credit cards.
During times of non-disasters, citizens with special needs or disabilities should contact their local fire department and emergency management agency to inform them of their emergency needs. That way, first responders can ensure that residents will be notifies of threatening conditions in their area.
The American Red Cross offers checklists of items that people should include in their disaster kits. The following are suggested items for individuals with special needs.
Emergency information lists
Grooming, dental and dressing devices
Hearing devices, extra batteries
Flashlight, extra batteries
Wheelchair, repair kit and/or other mobility aids
Long canes or sticks to gauge depth of floodwaters
Extra medication/prescribed medications
Service Animal/Pet Supplies
Pet food and water
Medications and medical records