CLINTON — The wave of deadly storms that made its way through the Midwest and Deep South this week serves as a reminder that preparation is the best defense against the havoc severe weather can wreak on lives and property.
Today also marks the first National Day of Action in conjunction with a Federal Emergency Management Agency initiative called America’s PrepareAthon!
America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations and communities to prepare for specific hazards through drills, group discussions and exercises. The Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross will be posting tips and information on its social media outlets throughout the day, and Clinton County Emergency Management Coordinator Chance Kness sat down with the Herald to help get the word out.
An important first step in being prepared for a severe weather event is to know your risks. For residents of the Gateway area, spring and summer bring an increased threat of tornadoes, flooding and severe thunderstorms, and there are simple steps that can be taken to be ready when an event strikes.
On average, tornadoes kill 60 people in the U.S. each year. In this region, said Kness, more fatalities result from straight-line wind events than tornadoes.
This fact helps to explain why, in 2009, a change was made to the county’s use of the outdoor warning sirens to include severe thunderstorm warnings with winds of 70 miles per hour or greater.
Some residents have expressed confusion why the sirens sound when it’s “just wind.” Kness explained that 70 mph “is the threshold when wind becomes life-threatening,” and offered a reminder that outdoor sirens are designed for people who are outside and may not know what is coming. Winds in excess of 70 mph can turn wood, metal and other debris into projectiles that will harm anyone in their path.