Are you prepared for a disaster? Allen’s first responders are sharing life-saving tips this September during Emergency Preparedness Month. Keep reading to assess your family’s readiness!
TIP #1: Get a weather radio.
“I wish everyone had a NOAA weather radio in their homes and a weather app on their phones,” says Assistant Fire Chief David Cannaday. Though the city operates 14 outdoor warning sirens, they are only designed to warn people who are outdoors. Depending on the noise level inside your home, you may not hear them over the sound of the television or air conditioner.
TIP #2: Take warnings seriously.“A lot of Texans went to bed this spring knowing there was some kind of severe weather warning,” says Ronnie Bates, City of Allen drainage foreman and one of the organizers of Texas’ PWERT (Public Works Emergency Response Team). Bates traveled to Wimberly, Texas during the region’s historic flooding in May. “The scope of it caught a lot of people off guard. Some didn’t act until it was too late.”
TIP #3: Think twice before calling 911.
“Don’t flood 911 to tell us your power is out. We can’t do anything about that,” says Deputy Chief of Police Ken Myers. “We want to keep phone lines open for people with actual emergencies.” The City of Allen offers a non-emergency dispatch line to field calls about safety issues that aren’t “life or death,” such as a tree limb partially blocking a road. If you want to report a power outage, call your electric company directly.
TIP #4: Keep your phone fully charged.Whether you’re trapped under debris or stranded on a flooded road, a fully-charged cell phone can be your lifeline. Don’t let the battery dwindle to its final bars, especially if there are storms in the forecast. If the power goes out, you won’t have the option to recharge.
TIP #5: Practice your emergency plan.
Don’t wait for a tornado warning to rehearse your emergency plan. Make sure every member of the family knows where to take shelter in a storm—preferably a ground-level closet or bathroom located at the center of the home, away from windows and exterior walls. “It becomes routine when you do it over and over,” says Cannaday, who trains first responders using the same philosophy of repetition. He also recommends storing essential supplies (such as a flashlight, snacks, medical supplies, prescriptions and extra batteries) in your shelter space. Check the emergency kit every six months to ensure medications and food items haven’t expired.
Read more about Allen’s emergency preparedness efforts in the September issue of Allen Image.