This has been a great week for us in the Emergency Management office as we have been able to focus on preparedness with our followers. Preparedness is the key to surviving any storm or disaster event. Here is a recap of our week:
Sunday – Severe Weather Preparedness Kick off
Monday – Before the storm, now is the time to prepare
Tuesday – How will you receive your severe weather alerts?
Wednesday – Knowing the difference between a watch or a warning
Thursday – During the storm, safety tips
Friday – After the storm, how do you survive during recovery
Saturday – Recap of the week
We also hosted a Severe Weather Spotters course, which was free to the community, at Anderson University. Guest speakers from the National Weather Service – Indianapolis educated us on different weather patterns and things to be watching for when severe weather is threatening in our community. Our severe weather spotter training is an annual event, so if you missed this year’s event, please remember to mark your calendar for 2020.
We also tested our Alert and Notification system on Tuesday in conjunction with the NWS – Indianapolis and Indiana Department of Homeland Security Emergency Alert System (EAS) test. During our test, we activated Nixle to provide advance warning to our followers as well as activated our severe weather spotters which are part of EMA’s Amateur Radio Organization (RACES- Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services).
After the storm passes and you have survived the storm, you still have to be alert for other dangers that can cause injury or even death if not handled properly. Depending on the severity of the damage and the population affected, emergency responders will likely be stretched thin and response times will be impacted. After a major storm, we educate the public that emergency response could be 24-72 hours before help arrives. This is why it is so important to have a disaster supply kit for you and your family to survive. We also encourage the public to learn first aid and CPR, contact your local fire department or the American Red Cross for more information.
Here are some important tips to remember After the storm:
If injured, seek necessary medical care.
Help others who may be trapped or injured, if it can be done safely.
Stay out of damaged buildings and any building surrounded by flood water.
Avoid entering ANY building (home, business, etc.) until local officials indicate it is safe.
Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
Wear sturdy shoes and use extreme caution when entering buildings.
Use battery powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings.
Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings that could fall.
Look for fire hazards and beware of possible water, gas or oil leaks.
Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into buildings with the
After Returning Home:
Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
Throw away food that has come into contact with floodwater.
Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.
Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible.
Contact the local health department before
making repairs to septic systems.
Be sure to follow Madison County EMA on all of our Social Media outlets for information after the storm.
So far this week we have talked about preparedness tips, ways to receive the watch and warning, the differences of a watch versus warning and now we need to talk about what to do during severe weather. Your actions during a storm could save your life or the life of someone dear to you.
Postpone or cancel outdoor activities and monitor weather reports on radio, television websites and social media.
For lightning, shelter inside a building or hardtop vehicle, but do not touch the metal inside.
Do NOT go near isolated tall trees or any other tall objects, or near downed power lines.
Do NOT stop at underpasses. Wind speeds increase and can cause serious injuries.
If tornados are expected while in a vehicle, get out and take shelter in a strong building if possible.
During tornado warnings, mobile home residents need to evacuate immediately. Shelter in a
building with a strong foundation.
If caught out in the middle of a body of water, return to shore as soon as possible.
Basements, inner rooms and storm cellars provide the best protection during a thunderstorm or
tornado. Stay in the center of the room, away from doors and windows.
If you need to evacuate due to the storm, here are some evacuation tips to remember.
If flooding is possible, evacuate the house and get to higher ground. Know the area and make sure to know alternate escape routes in case one is blocked.
Take pets, however, shelters may NOT allow pets inside due to sanitary conditions, so plan
Do NOT try to drive through water. As little as a few inches of moving water can wash most cars
away with the current.
Do NOT try to cross moving water on foot. As little as a few inches can knock adults off their feet.
During the storm, these are helpful tips which should help everyone stay safe and “weather the storm”
We can teach our followers about being prepared, how to receive severe weather alerts, however if you do not understand the difference between a Watch and Warning, it does us no good to warn you.
Watch – A watch is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrological event may occur in the next 8 hours. A watch means weather conditions MAY deteriorate and develop into severe weather.
Warning – A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent, or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property.
A WATCH means to be alert for the possibility of changing weather and changing conditions. Be sure you have a means to receive warnings in the event weather conditions deteriorate. During a WATCH time period is a good time to review where you will shelter if necessary and check your disaster supply kit.
A WARNING means severe weather has been spotted in your area and you should take appropriate protective actions immediately. Once a warning is issued, you may have only minutes to take action, immediately stop what you are doing and seek shelter.
The NWS has a website dedicated to the definition of the severe weather types which they provide watches and warnings. NWS Watches and WARNINGS
All Hazard Alert Radio
Continuing our series this week on Severe Weather Preparedness, today we will look at methods to receive severe weather alerts.
During times of severe weather, advanced warning is the key to saving lives. We recommend everyone has at least two methods to receive severe weather alerts at all times. This means you should have two methods to receive while you are at work, and at home. Remember that when you are sleeping, you may not hear your cellular phone device or it may be on night night mode to allow you to sleep.
The National Weather Service maintains a system for activating All Hazard Alert Radios which activate whenever severe weather, man-made or technological disaster is occurring in your area. Technology has advanced to the point, you only receive these alerts in your area when they are impacting your location. In other words, if a storm has already passed you or is moving in a direction which does not threat you, the alert will not be activated. The All Hazard Alert radios are great for notifications at night when you and your family are asleep. Here is a link to the NWS page for information on All Hazard Receivers. National Weather Radios
A second method to receive weather alerts and other emergency notifications on your email, text or by dial phone is Madison County’s Nixle Alert and Notification System. This is a FREE service for our citizens to sign up to receive. We only use this system when severe weather or an emergency threatens Madison County, IN. The staff from Madison County EMA controls this system and is never used for political, business advertising nor other NON-emergency related information. Signing up for this system is simple and easy. There are two methods to sign up:
1. If you only want to sign up to receive text (SMS) notifications, you can text the word MADISONCOEMA to 888-777 and sign up.
2. You can go to Nixle.com and create an account which then allows you to sign up to receive email, text or telephone messaging.
This system is fully funded by the Madison County Council thru local tax dollars. Alert and Notification systems such as Nixle are much more cost effective than purchasing outdoor sirens which only cover a small geographical area and each siren system can cost $50,000 per unit.
Another system for receiving weather alerts is to sign up with the National Weather Service and receive severe weather warnings direct from NWS. Here is a link to help you enroll for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) from NWS. Wireless Emergency Alerts . Also most of the Television stations in central Indiana also have notification systems on their website as well for their users.
Before the storm, it is always good to take preparedness actions around your home or business. By taking some simple preventive actions now, you can lessen the impact or damage caused by severe weather. Now is the time to tackle these preparedness tips, BEFORE the threat of storms is imminent. Tom Ecker, Executive Director for Madison County Emergency Management & Department of Homeland Security says “To many times we hear that citizens were not prepared for the storm and it cost them their home, their cars, or worse, their family. It is our job as Emergency Managers to help educate and keep our citizens informed and through our Outreach and Public Information Division we are trying to make a difference.”
Here are some very important Preparedness Tips to follow Before the Storm:
Keep trees trimmed to prevent limbs from falling onto buildings,
cars or people.
Contact insurance provider to purchase flood insurance.
Be aware of flood plains or areas that repetitively flood in the area.
If in a flood plain, put hot water heaters, electrical panels and
furnaces away from the ground.
Have basements waterproofed.
If flooding is possible, try to create a barrier between homes and the water.
In case of evacuation, make sure that preparedness kits are portable.
Build a disaster preparedness kit for your family . Disaster Kit – Build it 1 item a week for 52 weeks
Have a plan at home, work and at school where to shelter in place during a tornado warning. Additional Tornado Shelter Tips
For more information on Severe Weather Preparedness tips, be sure to follow us on social media, and check our website regularly.