May and June might be the peak tornado months in Indiana, but this summer, our severe weather threat has come from something other than tornadoes. After record breaking months of rain, destructive floods have caused widespread damage. Although recently, many Hoosiers have been able to breathe a sigh of relief, as summer continues and eventually turns into fall, our threat however is far from over. These dangerous weather patterns can happen at any time, day or night, and being prepared is the greatest defense we have.
Floods are actually the most common natural disaster in the U.S. While some take weeks to develop, others occur with very little notice. Before a flood occurs, one of the first things you should check – if you have one – is your home’s sump pump. Ensuring that the sump pump is working and has a battery-operated backup system can help prevent flooding in the lowest level of your home. Clearing debris from gutters and downspouts will also provide an extra layer of protection.
In addition, it is important to develop a family emergency plan and put together a disaster preparedness kit. These steps are a key part of preparing for any natural or manmade disaster – not just storms or flooding. The cornerstone of any safety plan is that it includes all the members in your family and ensures that everyone is on the same page about what they should do, where they should meet and who they should call in the event of an emergency.
This is important not only for households, but also schools, businesses and other places around the community. Last year, when Boonville High School was hit by a strong storm, they put their emergency plan into action, and the several hundred students who were there participating in after school activities were able to assemble in the designated safe areas without any injuries.
Making a disaster kit is another simple but very effective way to help keep you and your family safe. These kits should be stored in a waterproof, easy to carry container, bearing in mind that it could take up to three days to receive emergency assistance. Knowing that, your kit should include one gallon of water per person per day, a three day supply of non-perishable food items, first aid supplies, such as a thermometer, antibiotic ointment and Band-Aids, as well as other items, like a can opener, utensils and matches.
Finally, one thing that I have always stressed is the value of a weather radio. My wife Karen and I have relied on one for years, particularly at night when the worst tornadoes often occur. Weather radios can be used, even when the power is out, to receive warnings 24 hours a day, seven days a week; but don’t forget to keep extra batteries in your disaster kit!
A little bit of planning and preparation can help minimize the number of weather-related deaths and injuries and can help Hoosiers get back on their feet more quickly when disaster inevitably strikes. Chances are, you may have already adopted some of these safety tips, but part of being prepared is also sharing this message with others.
Do you know which neighbors have small children or other special needs family members who might need extra help during a natural disaster? I hope that you will consider those around you and share these tips – and even some of your own – with friends, neighbors and loved ones. We may not be able to control Mother Nature, but we can control our preparedness. To review these tips and more, please visit in.gov/dhs/3163.htm.