Protect against severe weather

Dear Editor:

You can’t always predict severe weather, but you can prepare for it. Are you ready for severe weather? Join us March 3-9 in making your preparedness plans during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

During 2012, FEMA Region V, which serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, received a total of six federal disaster declarations for incidents including flooding, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and severe winter storms. Our region even experienced damages from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. The Midwest often experiences extreme weather conditions, so we must be ready for all types of weather emergencies at all times during the year.

While we always hope that disasters will never affect our families and loved ones, we must move past the “it will never happen to me” mindset. While we can’t predict when or where the next disaster will strike, we should make plans to always be weather-ready.

Start your plan with understanding the types of risks that face your community. Next, put together a supply kit that includes all the basic and unique supplies your family will require immediately following a disaster. Also, consider how you would get in touch with family members if you were separated during an emergency. And because most people spend many hours in their vehicles, make sure you have an emergency supply kit for the times you are on the road. After you are prepared, encourage family, friends and neighbors to be prepared, too. By taking steps today to be prepared, you’ll be in a better position to tackle the effects of severe weather.

— Andrew Velasquez III, Regional Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region V