BAGGARLY: Be prepared for bad weather

June 24, 2014 

Recent storms that have occurred across the nation remind me that we should be prepared for bad weather at all times.

No longer can we guess that bad weather will come only in the spring due to tornadoes and summer due to hurricanes that are strong enough to affect the weather in Middle Georgia.

By taking time now, we can make emergency plans, purchase supplies for emergency kits and communicate these plans with family members. It is better to spend two hours to plan for emergencies versus being caught off guard in the middle of a storm.

The No. 1 way to stay informed of threatening weather is to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, radio.

A NOAA weather radio sounds an alarm and broadcasts up-to-date details about tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods and tropical weather. Make sure to buy one with the Specific Area Message Encoding, or SAME, technology.

It is common for severe weather to strike at night in Georgia. For this reason, place the radio in the bedroom to warn sleepers.

Outdoor warning sirens are great warning devices if you are outdoors or live next door when they go off. In the event that a storm strikes during the night, most people cannot hear the sirens inside their closed homes.

All Georgians should prepare for stormy weather by assembling an all-hazards kit.

It could take days for help to arrive after a natural or man-made disaster. Prepare a kit with supplies that will allow you and your family to survive for three to seven days without electricity and clean running water.

The most critical supply is at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day for at least three days. More water is needed for cooking and hygiene.

Besides water, a basic disaster supply kit should include nonperishable foods, water, a hand-operated can opener, a first-aid kit, battery-powered radio, NOAA weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries.

A detailed list of recommended contents for a basic disaster supplies kit is available at www.ready.gov/kit.

Make a plan on how to connect with family members should the family be in different locations when disaster occurs. It is good to have a central contact person who lives away from the area and perhaps in another state.

Be sure everyone has this person’s phone number and calls them to check in with their health status and location. This person will serve as the family clearinghouse and account for each family member.

In the event of a tornado, designate a specific area to wait out the storm. Seek an inside room.

Should your water supply become contaminated, there are steps to take to assure safe drinking water.

First of all, use the safe drinking water you have stored if it has not been exposed to flood waters.

If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.

If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.

If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.

Add 1/8 teaspoon (or eight drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean container with covers.

If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede.

If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or local extension office for specific information.

Jan Baggarly is Bibb County Extension coordinator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension working in the field of Family and Consumer Sciences. Contact her at 478-751-6338.

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