Red Cross: Have a severe weather plan

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Updated: 5/21/2013 11:49 am
JACKSON, MISS. (WTVA) -- Mississippi is prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and the American Red Cross urges residents to take steps now to stay safer when severe weather threatens.

“After recent severe weather and tornadoes across several states, this is the time to stop what you’re doing and make sure you and your family are prepared," said Don Stephens, emergency services director. “Create a disaster preparedness plan now before our community is threatened by high winds, hail, lightning and excessive rainfall.”

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for severe thunderstorm:

Make a Home Disaster Plan: Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during severe weather. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home. Remove animals from vulnerable dog houses and similar small structures.

Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.

Heed Storm Warnings: A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms or tornados are possible in and near the watch area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe weather warning is issued. A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.

Prepare for High Winds: If you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.

Everyone is urged to share these Red Cross severe weather preparedness tips with every member of their household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.
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