After a near miss with a blizzard over the past weekend, area residents are being reminded that this week of April 5-11 is once again being observed as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are joining forces for the observance, along with county emergency management agencies across the state. The event is intended as an annual reminder for all Iowans that severe weather is part of living in Iowa and understanding the risks of severe weather and how to respond to them.
During Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service will promote severe-weather safety by issuing informative Public Information Statements. Daily topics will include flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, NOAA Weather ALL Hazards Radio, and family preparedness.
The highlight of the week will be the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, April 8. The will begin at 10:00 A.M. and concluded by 10:45 A.M. for all 99 Iowa Counties. All five Iowa National Weather Service offices with serve Iowa will participate in the drill.
During Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service will promote severe-weather safety by issuing Public Information Statements each day of the observance. Daily topics will include NOAA All-Hazard Radio, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and family preparedness and heat safety.
The devastating tornadoes in Parkersburg and eastern Iowa last year are a clear example of how horrible severe weather can be. Schools, businesses and individuals should think about severe weather before it strikes and have an action plain in place at work and home to respond to severe weather. All Iowans are reminded that severe weather is part of being in Iowa and that understanding the risks and how to respond can save lives.
Palo Alto County Emergency Management Director Mark Hunefeld encourages all county residents to take time to consider what they would do in case of an actual severe weather event, by responding as if the drill were “the real thing.”
As there is always a possibility that weather conditions could prompt an actual watch or warning situation, should weather warrant such action on Wednesday, the statewide drills will be postponed.
As part of the drill and awareness week, local and state officials are urging all Iowans to create emergency supply kits. Those kits should contain a supply of water and food that can maintain a family for up to three days, using a figure of one gallon of water per day per person. Food items should be non-perishable.
The emergency kit should also contain basic tools, a battery operated radio, flashlight and spare batteries. A first-aid kit is also important, complete with bandages, non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, pain relievers and antacids, as well as scissors and anti-bacterial ointments.
Extra clothing and footwear are encouraged, along with blankets, money and specialty items, such as any prescription medications, pet foods or baby formulas. Sanitary supplies such as toilet paper, diapers, garbage bags, personal hygiene items and pre-moistened novelettes and soap are also an important part of any emergency kit.
Other items for an emergency kit include dishes, cups, utensils and a can opener, as well as copies of important documents, such as drivers license, birth certificate, Social Security Cards and financial information. Such documents should be kept in a waterproof container.
Once an emergency kit is developed, it should be placed in a spot known to all members of a household and it should be examined regularly to assure freshness of food, water and prescription drugs.