How to prepare for Spring-related weather emergencies

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) Just because winter is over, it doesn’t mean severe storm are also done. Spring weather brings its own dose of potential dangers. Rich Woodruff from the Utah Red Cross, joined Brian Carlson, with a helpful warning.

Spring is finally here with its warmer temperatures and longer days. But spring also brings its own severe weather threats. For Utah, that means thunderstorms, and flooding.

Thunderstorms produce lightning, which unfortunately kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Their heavy rains can cause flash flooding, and their strong winds can damage homes and cause power outages.

Tornadoes are more common in the Plains states, but can occur anywhere. They are violent and capable of destroying homes and businesses and leaving people with nothing.

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Flooding often occurs following a hurricane, thawing snow, or several days of sustained rain. Flash floods occur suddenly, due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.

So what should you do to be prepared should a weather emergency threaten your community? Woodruff says planning is the key. You need to know what emergencies are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Being prepared is just a few short steps away:

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to not be prepared. Get your emergency preparedness kit ready. You should include:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water-one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit, medications and medical items
  • Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Extra cash

2. Make a plan. Talk with household members about what you would do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet – one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

  • Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
  • Don’t forget your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.

  • Arm yourself with information about what to do in case an emergency occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
  • Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.
  • Learn first aid and CPR/AED so you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may not be as available. A variety of online and in-classroom training courses are available at RedCross.org/TakeAClass.

4. Download the Red Cross apps. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, as well as locations of shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. Parents can also download the Red Cross Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App, for a fun game to teach children what to do in case of a flood, hurricane and other disasters.

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