March 1 marks Missouri’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. Statewide
Preparedness and Awareness weeks are an opportunity to increase awareness
and response to severe weather hazards. What better time to make and practice
your emergency plan and build or refresh your disaster preparedness kit?
Weather disasters happen all the time. According to the National Weather
Service, Missouri experienced 66 tornadoes with three deaths and 38 injuries
in 2019. In 2018, there was one death and 7 injuries due to tornadoes.
One of the most crucial factors in these types of emergencies is reliable
communication. Receiving the latest warnings during severe weather is
critical in making proper decisions. There are several tools available
to stay informed of current conditions during weather-related disasters:
- National Weather Service (NWS) warnings are communicated via television,
radio, the internet and weather apps. Check them regularly with your preferred method.
- NIXLE Mass Notification Alerts: You can sign up to receive weather and
other emergency alerts through NIXLE, the mass notification system that
Central Jackson County Emergency Management is now using. Text your zip
code to 888-777 or go to nixle.com for more information.
NOAA Weather Radio, a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
is one of the few devices available that can warn you of impending weather
24-hours a day. It provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather
information from local NWS offices. Most stations operate 24 hours a day
and repeat weather messages every 4 to 6 minutes. Messages are routinely
updated every 1 to 3 hours depending on weather conditions. During severe
weather, NWS warnings will interrupt routine weather broadcasts with the
warning. If your radio is set to alert mode, it will turn on automatically,
set off an alarm, and broadcast the message. NOAA weather radios can be
purchased locally at Price Chopper, Ace Hardware, and Wal-Mart and typically
cost less than $40.
Another often neglected, critical item during an emergency is a Disaster
Supply Kit. Be sure you have the following basics before impending storms
as stores sell out quickly:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (canned goods,
granola bars, etc.) along with a manual can opener
- Battery-operated or hand-crank radio, NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert,
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place if necessary
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Cell phone with chargers or solar charger
- Shoes for each family member
- Contact lenses with supplies and glasses
Once you have gathered supplies for your basic kit, you may want to consider
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and water
- Cash, traveler’s checks and change
- Important documents (insurance, identification, bank information) and matches
in a waterproof portable container. Also keep phone numbers written down
in case your cell phone is inoperable or lost.
- Sleeping bag/warm blanket and complete change of clothes for each person
- Fire extinguisher
- Household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper. When diluted, nine parts
water to one-part bleach can be used as a disinfectant. In extreme emergencies,
you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops per gallon of water. Do
not use scented, color-safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Personal and feminine hygiene products
- Mess kits, paper plates, utensils
Most items can be stored in a plastic storage tote in a basement or inside
where easily retrieved. It is also a good idea to keep an emergency kit
in your car.
More information can be found on Missouri's
Stormaware.mo.gov website, which includes detailed videos about how to take shelter from
tornadoes in specific locations, how to avoid flash flooding and useful
information about tornado sirens, and weather alert radios. Missourians
are also encouraged to utilize
Missouri’s Ready in 3 Program to create a plan, prepare a kit, and listen for information regarding severe
Being prepared is key to dealing with and recovering from catastrophic
or severe weather. Use Severe Weather Awareness Week as a reminder to
get prepared. Don’t let yourself get caught without critical needs
to “weather the storm”.
is the Regional Emergency Preparedness Manager for St. Mary's and St. Joseph Medical Centers and can be reached at 816-228-5900.