Thursday, May 7, 2015

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - May 2015

Spring is here and while many folks in Tennessee are already dreaming of the warm, lazy summer days ahead, it is important to remember that the shift in temperature can lead to severe weather. April 27th was the 4 year anniversary of one of the most devastating storms to hit Southeast Tennessee.  While many of us are hyper sensitive to the unpredictable weather in the south, I felt it would be helpful to remind everyone how it is absolutely essential to prepare your home and family BEFORE disaster strikes. Don’t wait until it is too late. I have seen many lives saved simply because people took the proper precautions to ensure their own safety and the safety of their family.

One important fact everyone should know is the difference between a watch and warning. A tornado watch indicates conditions are favorable for a tornado in your area. Stay tuned to the radio or television news. A tornado warning means that a tornado is on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar. Seek shelter immediately! If you are indoors, take cover in the cellar or a small space (a closet or bathroom) in the interior of your home, away from any windows. If you are outdoors, find a field or ditch away from items that can fly through the air and lie down as flat as you can. Do not stay in a car or try to drive away from a tornado as cars can be flung about by high winds or crushed by debris. If you have evacuated, do not return to your home until it is deemed safe to do so by local officials.

Talk to your family and have a plan in place to practice what you would do in the event of a tornado. Have a tornado drill and help your children understand where they will go in your home. Don’t forget to include your pets as you practice getting into your safe place. The Red Cross has a tornado safety checklist to help you prepare and for smart phone users, there is also a free tornado app and our latest Emergency app is available for iPhone and Android. The Red Cross tornado app is designed to help you understand and prepare for a tornado and all that comes with it. With interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, it’s never been easier to be Red Cross Ready!

In the event that your home or community is hit by a tornado, keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Provide aid carefully to anyone who may be injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be electrically charged! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas lines or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials. If you are able, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe or use the “I’m safe” feature on your tornado app.

The Red Cross is here to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be for tornadoes as well as house fires, floods, and other emergencies.  These disasters can strike suddenly, at anytime and anywhere.  There are three actions everyone can take now that can help make a difference.  Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed.  So before the next disaster strikes, take a moment to stop and ask yourself, “Am I Red Cross Ready?”  If the answer is, “No” or, “I’m not sure” then it’s time to prepare.  It may just save a life.

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