Did you know that as of 2017, Saline County was tied for the fifth most confirmed tornadoes since 1950 in the State of Arkansas, according to the National Weather Service? Primarily, severe weather season in Arkansas is March through May, with secondary season in the fall and early winter, but central Arkansas is at risk any time of the year.
“It is essential to have a plan in place at home that includes severe weather preparedness to help protect yourself and your family in the event of an emergency. Having a plan can help reduce fear, anxiety and losses that accompany disasters,” said CJ Engel, Director for Saline County Office of Emergency Management.
A few steps to take beforehand include making sure you have proper insurance in place, keeping your safety kit well stocked with non-expired goods and working batteries, go over your family disaster and evacuation plans with your family and perhaps even doing some test runs, and subscribing to weather alerts through text message or Facebook notifications.
When there is a threat of severe weather, the first step to being prepared is to know what your risks are. Is it a flood? Chance of tornado? Power outage? Know the difference between a “watch” and a “warning.” A “Tornado Watch” means that a tornado is possible and to be alert. A “Tornado Warning” means that a tornado is expected or occurring and you need to seek shelter immediately.
During severe weather, the Saline County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) activates the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The weather situation is closely monitored while communication is maintained between the EOC and first responders in the field, the National Weather Service and local storm spotters. Saline County Emergency Management documents and assesses reported damages and controls the Outdoor Warning Siren System and the county Emergency Notification System, AlertSaline.
Saline County OEM and Saline County Library are collaborating to create a Family Prep Night to provide the community the opportunity to learn more about severe weather preparedness and to build free disaster supply kits for the home. Dates have been scheduled for both the Benton and Bryant branches of the Saline County Library and will be FREE to attend for ALL AGES as an ideal family night out.
These events will take place on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton and Tuesday, March 5, 2019 from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Mabel Boswell Memorial Library in Bryant. Pre-registration is required. Register by visiting www.SalineCountyLibrary.org/calendar or calling 501-778-4766.
BUILD A DISASTER KIT:
Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to start building your disaster kit. If you have one, great! But it is important to make sure it is well stocked and nothing is expired, broken or not working properly. According to the National Weather Service, a basic kit should include:
Backpack or storage tub to hold your supplies
1 gallon per person is recommended
If including canned foods, you must include a can opener
Flashlight with extra batteries
First Aid Supplies
Toilet paper and bags with ties for personal sanitation
Paper and pen or pencil (to take notes, play games, etc)
Sleeping bag or warm blanket (recommend one for each person in your home)
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Personal hygiene items (travel size deodorant, cotton swabs, feminine items, etc)
Whistle to Signal for help
Important documents (identification, insurance information, banking information, wills, etc)
Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book
Battery powered radio and a NOAA Weather radio
Formula and diapers (if there is an infant in the house)
Extra pet food (if there are pets in the house)
Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Cups and utensils
A change of clothes for each person in your home (if you live in a cooler climate make sure the clothes are warm!)
Also include a jacket, hat, gloves and closed toe shoes for walking (boots or sturdy sneakers are best)
Cards or game (it is important to have something to do to take your mind off the situation for a few moments or alleviate stress if you will be in your shelter for an extended time)