Be ready for storm season

By Walt Braun

With any luck, we won’t have much in the way of severe weather this spring. But we ought to know better than to count on luck.

The fact that we are enjoying 80-plus degree days in mid-March — officially, it’s still winter — ought to be enough to convince skeptics that just about anything is possible. If we can have a warm, dry winter, we’re more than capable of having a stormy spring.

Let’s give state and local emergency preparedness people credit: Not only did they alert residents that sirens would go off Tuesday afternoon, but the scheduled day turned out to be nice and sunny, minimizing the possibility that someone might think the end was near.

Given that our weather is about a half-season ahead of schedule and given the number of tornadoes that have grabbed attention in this state and elsewhere, it isn’t too early to prepare for severe weather. Fortunately, there isn’t much to it.

It starts with paying attention to what’s going on outside and to weather forecasts and heeding watches and warnings. That goes for severe thunderstorms as well as tornadoes; little captures the imagination like a tornado, but severe thunderstorms aren’t only more common, they can be immensely destructive as well. They, too, can carry winds powerful enough to blow vehicles from roadways, snap trees and rip roofs from houses. Severe thunderstorms also often come with hail, heavy rain, and, of course, lightning. And they, too, can knock out power and cause flash flooding.

Storm or survival kits can be invaluable in such situations. Simple enough to compile, the hardest part often is making a point of doing it. Such kits should include first-aid equipment — in fact a first-aid kit for each car as well as the home is recommended. Also include enough food for three days, enough water so that there is a gallon a day for each individual; flashlights and spare batteries; cash; basic hand tools; and miscellaneous items ranging from insurance policies and prescription drugs to books or games to help pass the time.

Parents also would be wise to have rendezvous and contact plans in the event family members are scattered when severe weather strikes. It’s remarkable how some simple, common-sense steps can improve our luck during storm season.

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