Be prepared for severe weather

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Be prepared and have a plan to handle severe weather before it gets here. (contributed)

Be prepared and have a plan to handle severe weather before it gets here. (contributed)

By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor

While I hunkered down in my cluttered basement as tornado warnings dotted the Birmingham metro area last week, my topic for this week’s column came to mind.

You can never (ever, ever) stress the importance of severe weather preparedness too much.

Though Shelby County escaped James Spann’s tornado warning polygon this time around, tornado season in Alabama really doesn’t have a set start and end date; it’s year round.

Last week’s storms spawned tornadoes that barreled through Alabama and Mississippi, claiming several lives and leaving twisted metal and wreckage where homes and businesses once stood.

This latest string inclement weather brought my ill- preparedness to light, and I should know better being a born-and-bred Alabamian.

So, this column serves as a reminder for myself (and maybe you, too) to be ready in the event of severe weather. Protect yourself and your family by following these instructions:

  • Create an emergency kit. This should include water and food for at least 72 hours, a means of communication or information (radio, phone, tablet, etc.), first aid supplies, clothing and toiletries.
  • Designate a safe room. Safe rooms include basements, garages and interior rooms on the first floor. The room should have no windows, and anchored to the ground to avoid uplift.
  • Stay informed. Listen to local radio station or watch local TV. Invest in a NOAA weather radio, which can be purchased at most big-box retailers and outdoor supply stores. Find a weather radio with backup battery power and a tone-alert feature, which automatically notifies you when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather watch or warning for your area.
  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that conditions are prime for tornado development and tornadoes are possible in your area, while a tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted in your area. If a tornado warning is issued, you should seek appropriate shelter immediately.

Cassandra Mickens is associate editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 13 or by email at cassandra.mickens@ She is @CassMickens on Twitter.