Severe Weather Preparedness Week is Feb. 4-8

By Errol Castens/Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

The deadliest tornado zone on Earth stretches roughly from Little Rock, Ark., to Birmingham, Ala., putting North Mississippi in the bulls-eye.
In 2011, 42 people were killed and nearly 300 were injured in Mississippi during severe weather outbreaks.
“Mississippi is at or near the top of nearly all tornado statistics including total tornadoes, strong to violent tornadoes and long track tornadoes,” said Natioinal Weather Service meteorologist Steve Wilkinson. “Tornado statistics from the last 60 years also show that the frequency of tornadoes increases rapidly from the middle of February all the way through April. We are quickly approaching the peak season, so we encourage residents to remain aware of weather forecasts so they can be prepared and stay safe.”
Gov. Phil Bryant has declared Feb. 4-8 Severe Weather Preparedness Week statewide.
“Being unprepared can jeopardize your safety or even your life,” Bryant said. “It is important to learn now what steps you can take to stay safe when severe weather is in your area. Some simple actions and a little planning can save your life.”
According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, every Mississippian should have one or more methods to receive severe weather warnings, including a weather radio, a local phone-based warning system such as Code RED or any of several mobile device apps.
“Having a disaster plan in place in every home will save lives,” said MEMA Director Robert Latham. “We know that severe weather will affect our state again, and better education about our risks can lead to better preparedness.”
The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide tornado drill using the Emergency Alert System at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Schools, government agencies and businesses throughout the state are encouraged to participate.
MEMA urges having a home emergency kit suitable for a variety of situations. Among recommended items are flashlights, AM/FM radio, NOAA weather radio, batteries, drinking water and nonperishable food for at least three days, first aid kit, prescription medications, bedding, clothing, utensils, rainwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, mosquito repellant, sanitary supplies, toiletries, bleach, copies of important documents, cash, generator and bicycle helmet.
Detailed preparedness information is available from www.msema.org or from county emergency management agencies.
errol.castens@journalinc.com