Severe weather safety should be priority



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


3/11/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- With tornado and hurricane season right around the corner, it is important for people to prepare themselves for severe weather events.

The Maxwell weather office works to inform and protect people from severe weather by monitoring, forecasting and encouraging personnel to be prepared.

David Scott, manager of the Maxwell weather office, detailed the process of preparing for severe weather events.

"We monitor the weather satellite and our weather radar for significant weather. We also use computer models to help predict severe weather events," Mr. Scott said. The base also includes severe weather scenarios in base exercises and issues severe weather response information to each unit several times a year.

When severe weather occurs, base personnel will be informed via computer pop-ups on their work computers, the telephone alerting system and the siren system.

Ronnie Moore, emergency management supervisor, encouraged everyone to review the disaster guide to make sure everyone is prepared in case a severe weather event does occur.

Even though the base does take precautions to minimize risk in severe weather incidents, people have the biggest responsibility in ensuring their safety.

"There are a lot of things an individual can do to prepare," said Mr. Moore. "The unit emergency management rep has a ... disaster guide for military and dependents, which has information on how to build a family disaster plan, a list of items you should have in a kit, and covers items such as protection of important documents [and how to] establish a location for family members to reassemble if separated during a disaster."

A family disaster plan is a critical part of being prepared. According to Mr. Moore, there are basic steps in developing a plan: Know what disasters are possible in your area, know where you are going to meet up if your family is separated, post emergency numbers by all phones, stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supply kit.

If a tornado or hurricane is imminent, he said to seek cover as quickly as possible.

"Everyone should seek cover inside a facility immediately. If in a car, you need to pull over to the first facility you can and get out and get inside the facility," Mr. Moore said. "If you are inside, then follow your facility plan and go to the safe area designated on the facilities tornado visual aid. If unsure where the safest area is, find any interior wall or small room and sit on the floor up against the wall."