Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 11-15, 2016 with two statewide tornado drills on Thursday, April 14, at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. The annual public event is designed to remind individuals, families, businesses, schools and institutions that it’s essential to plan ahead for Minnesota’s severe spring/summer weather.
Individuals and families can take action to make sure they have what they need in their emergency disaster kit and refresh their memory with the definitions of warnings and watches.
When severe weather strikes you often have only a few minutes to respond and seek shelter. It is essential for you and your family to be prepared in an emergency. Blue Earth County Emergency Management recommends that everyone become familiar with the type of weather they may encounter at different times of the year, prepare an emergency disaster kit and practice their emergency plan frequently.
Many people do not understand the difference between a watch and a warning. When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch is issued. Information from weather radar, spotters and other sources is used to issue severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings for areas where severe weather is imminent.
Severe weather warnings are passed to local radio and television stations and broadcast over weather alert radios. These warnings are also relayed to local emergency management and public safety officials who then activate the local warning systems to alert communities.
Blue Earth County Emergency Management recommends assembling an emergency disaster kit in advance and placing it in your shelter area. An emergency disaster kit should contain:
• Non-perishable food items and water
• Manual can opener if your kit contains canned food
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• Change of clothing for each family member
• Extra hard-soled shoes for each family member
• Extra bike or sports helmets
• First-aid kit
• Prescription medications
• Flashlight and batteries
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, if necessary
• NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio
• Set of car and house keys
• Whistle to signal for help
• Identification and a credit card or cash
• Any specific items you may need for children such as diapers or formula
• Extra collars and leashes, food, water and necessary supplies for your pets; for smaller animals, a crate or cage to help keep them safe and close
Additional supplies and equipment may be necessary for family members with disabilities or medical conditions.
For more information about Severe Weather Awareness Week visit the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Office website at; https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/weather-awareness-preparedness/Pages/severe-weather-awareness-week-program.aspx.