This week saw Scotland County bracing for a possible tornado.
Luckily nothing much materialized from the hazardous weather warnings on Tuesday. But officials with the Scotland County chapter of the American Red Cross used the opportunity to remind all of us of the importance of being ready with family disaster plans.
September is National Preparedness Month.
According to the Red Cross, plans should include designating a meeting place right outside the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, an out-of-area emergency contact person and a location where everyone should meet if they can’t go home. All members of the household should work together on the emergency plan and each person should know how to reach other family members.
Here are some other tips for the agency:
Create and practice a home tornado plan. Pick a “safe room” or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.
Assemble an emergency kit. Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.
Heed storm warnings. Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado warning is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. . If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.
Prepare for high winds: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
The Red Cross also has several programs to help people, businesses, schools and communities be better prepared. There is Be Red Cross Ready, an online tutorial that teaches people to be ready for emergencies.
You can also check out aditional instructions and a template at www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan to help you build your own plan.