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Community Prepares For Severe Weather

StormDrillLong.136The weather of the past two weeks has hardly seemed like spring, but we know it can’t be too many weeks away. With spring comes the threat of thunderstorms, dangerous lightning, flash floods and damaging winds.
Although that type of weather can occur at any time, the potential for storms is most prevalent in the springtime. For that reason, March 3-9 has been designated National Severe Storm Preparedness Week and the statewide tornado drill was conducted on Tuesday this week.
The National Weather Service and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) encourage everyone to be prepared for the coming storm season and know what they would do in the event of a thunderstorm or tornado.
Ava’s outdoor storm warning siren was sounded at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon when the statewide drill was conducted. After activating the siren, Ava/Douglas County EMA Director Billy Long made contact with SEMA and the National Weather Service to let them know the siren was activated and that it worked properly.
The key to staying safe during severe weather is to be prepared. That means not only having a safe place to go in the event of a tornado, but in knowing how to deal with lightning, heavy rain and flooding; and power outages that may accompany a winter storm as well as spring thunderstorms.
When there is a potential danger from storms, it is important to periodically check the weather forecast. If there is a threat of severe weather, make it a point to be even more alert to changing weather conditions.
When listening to the forecast, it is important to know the difference in a “Watch” and a “Warning.”
A watch means there is a possibility of storms in your area. A warning, on the other hand, means a storm has been reported or is imminent and you should take cover.
The best policy is to plan ahead so you do not get caught outside in a storm.
Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining, even if you do not see clouds. That means if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance.
Most severe storms do not last more than 30 minutes. However, once the storm has passed, it does not mean that the danger has. There could be a variety of hazards left behind.
Downed power lines are a definite hazard following a storm and should always be avoided. Never assume a power line is dead.
Not only can the downed line be deadly, but anything touching that power line can carry a charge that will injure or kill if touched.
If your power goes out and you are inspecting your home in the dark, use a flashlight. Never use a candle or anything with an open flame to avoid the risk of fire or explosion due to a gas leak.
If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you know how and can do so safely.
If you smell gas, notify an emergency dispatcher and get out of the house and stay out until the gas has been turned off.
Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are under water. The water could be energized.