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September 24, 2021

September is National Preparedness Month. The goal is to educate the country about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.

2021's theme is "Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love."

Each week has a designated theme.

Week One: Make a Plan

Week One begins September 1 and runs through the 4th. This week's theme is "Make a Plan."

According to ready.gov, this week is all about talking to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. The government is encouraging people to update their plan based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. This comes amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With the help of Midland Radio's Meteorologist, Bruce Jones, we've put together a few steps for you to take as you put your plan together.

How will I receive my alerts?

It's important you have multiple, redundant ways of receiving life-saving warnings.

NOAA Weather Radios are a great place to start. It's the official "Voice of the National Weather Service." There is no faster way to get official warnings directly from your local NWS office.

While it's important to make sure you have your cellphone charged and available, they aren't always reliable in an emergency. Some alerts on your phone might be delayed due to too many people on the network or physical damage to the cellphone tower.

Midland Radio's WR120 NOAA Weather Alert Radio is simple and easy to use. It will make sure you and your family are up to date with the latest alerts and information from emergency officials. The WR120 features S.A.M.E. EZ localized programming and alerts. It has the ability to alert you to over 60 kinds of weather hazards and emergencies.

Make sure this radio is part of your plan so you have time to evacuate or seek shelter.

Where is our shelter?

When making your plan, it's crucial you know where to seek shelter if and when the time comes.

In a tornado:

For tornadoes, go to the lowest floor or lie down low in an interior hall or closet away from windows. This can also include a bathroom. Try to place as many walls as possible between you and the approaching tornado.

If you have a basement, go there and get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture.

Falling and flying debris is dangerous so for added protection cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag, or mattress.

Do not stay in a mobile home. If you are outside or in a mobile home, try to find a nearby building.

If you are in the car, don't try to outrun the tornado and instead find the nearest sturdy building.

Falling and flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado. Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others.

While making a plan, it's important you locate the best place in your home to seek shelter ahead of time so you don't hesitate if the time comes.

In a hurricane:

Even sturdy, well-built homes may not hold up against a hurricane.

You may hear an order to stay at home or to evacuate.

In case of an evacuation order, make sure you have a supply kit ready to go. Know how to unplug your appliances, turn off the gas, electricity, and water. When evacuating, you'll need to follow the roads that emergency workers recommend, even if there is traffic. Ahead of time, you can plan out the best routes to get out of your neighborhood and get to the main roads. The more routes you have planned, the better.

When planning for an evacuation, make sure you have a Midland ER310 E+Ready Emergency Crank Weather Radio. This radio has multiple sustainable power options to stay on while in the car for long periods of time. You can also recharge your USB compatible devices using this radio.

If you're told to stay at home, plan ahead of time, making sure you have an emergency supply kit somewhere easy to access. Ensure that you have a safe spot in your house. Also, make sure you have storm shutters or plywood in case you need to cover window frames and windows.

What is your communications plan?

Communication should always be at the center of your disaster plan- before, during, and after.

In case your cell phone doesn't work, make sure you have important phone numbers written down and stored in your purse, wallet, and car glovebox. Remember, in a disaster, cellphone bandwidth is very small. Text messages like, "IMOK" (I am okay) and HELP have a much better change of going through when a longer message or phone call can't.

Get a set of walkie talkies and learn how to use them. When cell towers are down, battery-powered radios could be your saving grace. Midland has a wide-range of handheld two-way radios perfect for keeping your family in touch when you need it the most. These two-way radios are easy to use and are reliable. The ease of use is perfect for families with kids. Many of our walkie talkies come equipped with weather scan technology. That technology can help keep your family alert for other waves of severe weather after a disaster hits.

How will the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact My Disaster Plan?

Ready.gov is asking that families consider the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as you make your disaster plan.

With physical distancing and other mitigation practices in place in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, preparing for hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters might look different.

When making your disaster plan, remember it might take longer to get certain medications and supplies you will need in your emergency preparedness kit.

If you need to seek shelter, make sure you're checking in with local officials about updated plans for shelters and evacuations. In the case of public shelters, your location could change due to the pandemic. For tips on how to navigate a public shelter amidst a pandemic, head here.

The Centers for Disease Control says if you live in an area prone to severe weather, the earlier you plan, the better.

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