How to be prepared for severe weather

How to be prepared for severe weather

In light of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the office of the Weakley County Emergency Management Agency and the state are offering tips for homeowners to be as prepared as possible when severe weather threatens the region. In the last five days, Northwest Tennessee are already seen its fair share of damaging winds and excessive rainfall.

Fortunately, Weakley County has dodged Mother’s Nature’s bullet as she only left mild damage in her path.

Spring is the most notable season for severe weather and Weakley County EMA Director Jamison Peevyhouse is encouraging residents to begin preparing now for the spring season right around the corner.

“To prepare for this year’s spring storm season, residents should make sure that they are well informed,” Peevyhouse said. “We offer a variety of programs that residents can belong to get up-to-date information including ALERT FM.” 

In 2009, the county began using ALERT FM as a means of keeping schools, business and residents informed of impending severe weather conditions and post weather instructions. 

Residents can receive this important information by purchasing an ALERT FM receiver for around $40 with no recurring usage fees from Bradford Bestway in Bradford, Rutherford Grocery in Rutherford, or www.alertfm.com. Receivers are small, light weight, and easy to program. 

“During a severe weather event, ALERT FM receivers have ability to provide residents with critical information, directly from the National Weather Service, and state and county officials.” said Jim Lowery, general manager of Global Security Systems (manufacturer of ALERT FM). 

Peevyhouse also encourages residents to prepare for spring storm season by having an emergency plan and disaster supply kit, practicing drills, and knowing your location in relation to the impending storm.

Before the storm:

Assemble a kit of essentials, like battery-operated flashlights and radios. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers that includes the electric utility. Be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged outage due to power line and electric equipment damage.

Fill spare containers with water for washing, and keep a supply of bottled drinking water on hand. Maintain a supply of non-perishable food items, along with a hand opener for canned food.

Be sure to tune into your local weather station if you suspect severe weather is brewing. Understand the National Weather Service warning classification system. 

A tornado or severe storm watch means that conditions are favorable for those weather conditions forming. A warning means that dangerous weather conditions are developing and imminent.

Lightning can travel up to ten miles away from a storm, so seek shelter as soon as you hear thunder.

During an outage, switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored.  Leave one lamp or switch on as a signal for when your power returns.

After the storm:

The Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) would like to offer consumers some tips for interacting with insurance companies and selecting contractors should significant damage property damage occur:

• As soon as possible after an event affects your home, contact your insurance carrier or your agent. Locate a copy of your policy and read through it.

• Make a thorough inventory for your adjustor of all of the items missing from or damaged in your home.

• Take pictures, if possible, of all damage – inside and outside, from several angles – to get full documentation before any repairs are made.

• Secure and protect your property against further rain or other damage as much as possible without making permanent repairs, so that the adjustor can see and document the full extent of the damage,

• Keep receipts for expenses of protecting your property from further damage.

• Follow the claims-filing procedure set forth in your policy. If there is a dispute, follow the company’s dispute process.

• Many larger companies have quick-response teams that come into areas of heavy damage to process large numbers of claims as quickly as possible. Others will not send someone out unless you call them. Call your company to be sure.

• Call TDCI with insurance issues at 800-342-4029 or its Consumer Affairs division hotline for non-insurance issues at 800-342-8385. 

Tennessee’s Board for Licensing Contractors has found that unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors like to take advantage of homeowners anxious to rebuild after disasters. 

Be sure to hire only licensed contractors and check them out with the Board. 

Consumers may verify a license status by calling 800-544-7693, or may check TDCI’s website for various trades at http://verify.tn.gov.

wcp 3/1/11

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