Be a force of nature

Air Station Elizabeth City performs a rescue during a winter storm. Photo courtesy of Greg South.

Air Station Elizabeth City performs a rescue during a winter storm. Photo courtesy of Greg South.

Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. This is especially evident during the threat of severe weather. The deadliest and most destructive tornado of 2013, an EF-5 that occurred on May 20 in Moore, Ok., caused more than $2 billion in property damage. Even though severe weather was anticipated days in advance, many in the impacted areas said they did not have a plan or were caught unprepared.

Members of the Coast Guard's Disaster Assistance Response Team provide assistance to residents of Forest View, Ill., during flood rescue efforts in April 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf.

Members of the Coast Guard’s Disaster Assistance Response Team provide assistance to residents of Forest View, Ill., during flood rescue efforts in April 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf.

This week is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and is a perfect time to reflect on how ready you and your loved ones are for the unexpected.

Severe weather could happen at any time, anywhere. In November 2013 alone, at least 70 tornadoes spanned seven Midwestern states. Even though tornado are forecasted days in advance, and warning lead times for the tornado outbreak averaged nearly 20 minutes, there were still many people in the impacted areas that stated they were unprepared.

“It is important that we focus on the preparedness and the safety of our families and our communities,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, commander of the 8th Coast Guard District. “Now is the time to ensure that we have family emergency and communication plans that can be used in the event of severe weather.”

Knowing your risk, taking action and being an example by sharing your knowledge and actions with your social network are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared and save your life and others.NSWPW-poster-2014

Know Your Risk: Hurricanes, tornadoes, storms – every state in the United States experiences severe weather. Visit weather.gov to get the latest on weather threats.

Take Action: Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and learning about Wireless Emergency Alerts.

Be an Example: Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.

This year, we urge our readers to take the time to learn how to prepare for severe weather throughout National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Use the resources above or share what you’ve learned in past disasters in the comments below!

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