Be prepared now for severe weather

Wanda English Burnett

A WATCH means conditions are favorable and a WARNING means the severe weather is likely to occur soon!

The news of the Waterfront Restaurant in Cincinnati floating down the Ohio River Friday evening, March 11 is a poignant reminder of the power of Mother Nature.

The rising waters of the mighty Ohio River, due to higher than usual amounts of rainfall, was the indirect cause of the restaurant breaking loose from its moored position with more than 100 people inside. The restaurant was literally floating, coming to rest on a bridge post with everyone inside being able to be safely evacuated. The outcome could have been much different.

While Ripley County is not situated directly bordering the Ohio River, it does have challenges when it comes to excessive rainfall.

Flooding is a problem in many areas, particularly in Friendship.

The county is not only susceptible to flash floods and flooding, but spring-summer thunderstorms, which can produce large hail, lightning and strong winds.

Spring brings days of sunshine and flowers, but can be deadly with tornadoes always a possibility. This year marks 46 years since the worst tornado outbreak in Indiana history on Palm Sunday in 1965.

Straight line winds also wreak havoc on property and are often confused with a tornado because of the damage left behind.

As Governor Mitch Daniels has declared this week Severe Weather Preparedness Week, agencies are tweaking their systems and testing sirens to make sure they are working properly.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has released some tips to help keep people as safe as possible during a time of severe weather. You can be informed, make a plan, create a disaster kit, and get involved.

You will need a three-day supply of water and food for each person in your household.
• A gallon of water per day for each person.
• Store in clean, plastic containers.
• The higher the temperature, the more water may be needed.
Food could consist of:
• Protein bars.
• Canned meats.
• Dry cereal and dry milk.
• Peanut butter/crackers
These items should be customized for your family.

A disaster aid kit should contain:
Latex gloves
Petroleum jelly
Band aids
Eye wash and contact solution
Burn ointment
Hydrogen peroxide
Over the counter medication
Prescription medication (at least for one week)
Other items needed:
Battery operated or hand crank flashlight and radio
Cell phone
Extra batteries
Rain gear
Sturdy shoes
List of emergency phone numbers
Important documents
Whistle to signal for help

Put all the items in a plastic tote in an easy access place so it’s ready at a moment’s notice.

Make a plan.
Every family needs to make a plan customized for their own needs. You should include in your plan meeting locations and emergency phone numbers to call and make sure everyone in your family understands your plans. You should also practice them frequently.

Be informed.
Know the difference between a thunderstorm warning and a watch. The same goes for a tornado and flood.
Before severe weather strikes there are some things you can do to minimize your chances of being hurt:
– keep trees trimmed to avoid falling onto buildings, cars or people.
– If hail or strong winds are reported, park your vehicle under a shelter to avoid damage.
– Contact your insurance provider if you are in a flood plain.
– If in a flood plain, put hot water heaters, electrical panels, and furnaces away from the ground.
– Have basements waterproofed.
– If flooding is possible, try to create a barrier between your house and the water.

Lightning Safety:
Lightning is the visible discharge of electrical energy. It is often accompanied by thunder, which is a sonic boom created by the same discharge. According to information from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, if you hear thunder, lightning is a threat.
If lightning occurs avoid water, high ground, large open areas, isolated trees, and all metal objects and electrical wires.
When indoors avoid water, doors and windows, and do not use electrical appliances.
Do not participate in any outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after lightning has been seen.

When flooding occurs:
During a flood you should do the obvious and get to higher ground if possible. Evacuate your house if flooding is possible. Know your town and make sure you know alternate escape routes in case one is blocked. Take pets with you, but remember many shelters do not allow pets inside due to sanitary conditions.

As little as two feet can cause most cars to float, and as little as a few inches of moving water can wash most cars away with the current.
Do not try to cross moving water on foot.
Stay informed. Watch TV or listen to the radio to find out what actions to take next. Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. It can develop over the course of a few weeks or can happen quickly.

Tornado safety:
During a tornado, basements, inner rooms, and storm cellars provide the best protection. If you live in a mobile home, get out immediately. Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation such as a designated safe place within the county.
If you are in your vehicle, get out and go into a strong building if possible. If you cannot get to a building, lie in a flat ditch or low area and cover your head. Do NOT go under overpasses. Wind speeds increase and can cause serious injuries.
After the tornado has passed, caution should still be taken. You should stay out of damaged buildings. Stay away from downed power lines and be aware of possible water, gas or oil leaks. Look for and help others who could be trapped.

For more information on severe weather safety you can visit the IDHS web site at: