Severe Weather Awareness Week set for next week

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa.

?It?s really just a push from the state, the NOAA, the National Weather Service that we?re getting into that season, so it?s just kind of reminders of what to do when severe weather hits,? Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reisen said.

On Wednesday, March 28, a statewide tornado drill will be held as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

?That will go from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.,? Reisen said. ?This is provided that there?s not actually a threat for severe weather. If there?s any chances for severe weather they?ll postpone it until Thursday, and if there?s a chance Thursday they?ll postpone it until Friday.?

At 10 a.m., a tornado watch will be issued, she said. At 10:15 a.m., a tornado warning will be issued for the whole state.

?Most counties will set off their sirens,? Reisen added. ?A lot of schools will do one of their quarterly or semester tornado drills.?

Reisen is hoping people at work next Wednesday also will participate in the tornado drill.

?When the sirens go off most people will be at work, so that?s a good time to think about ?Does my employer have an emergency plan? If there is a tornado where do I go??? Reisen said.

If the office is a public building, what do you do with the people who are there when the drill or actual event is happening?

?Like over at the courthouse, it?s in the courthouse plan that you tell people what?s going on,? Reisen said. ?Make sure they?re aware that there is a tornado warning.?

When employees go to the basement at the courthouse, they let the people at the courthouse know about the warning and recommend people take action, she added.

Next week also will be a good week for people to revisit their emergency plans at home.

?Get to the lowest level,? Reisen said. ?If you don?t have a basement, get to an inside room with no windows if possible.?

Have your children bring their bike helmets into the shelter to protect them from flying debris, and put babies in their car seat, she added. The car seat acts as a protective shell for them.

Reisen said it?s a good idea to review your emergency plans every time the season changes.

?You should discuss weather-specific plans as well as general plans,? she said. ?Every family should have a communications plan. They should have an emergency contact out of the area that everybody can text one person who?s not been affected and then that person can keep track of everybody.?

Besides focusing on tornadic weather next Wednesday, Monday will be severe thunderstorm day, Tuesday will be how to receive warning information, Thursday will be family preparedness and Friday will be flooding.

Each day Reisen will post something on Washington County?s Emergency Management?s social media sites about these topics, she said.