As Hurricane Season Begins, Preparedness is Paramount
One piece of advice FEMA Director Craig Fugate gives in his awe-inspiring hurricane safety video is to make sure you include pets in your emergency plans. You gotta love the guy.
Hurricane Season began on June 1, 2012. So, to mark the occasion, FEMA is providing new tools for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials to alert and warn the public about severe weather. Using the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), officials will be able to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to participating wireless carriers for distribution to the public. And for those of us who don’t have mobile phones—we will always have the Twilight Bark.
The alerts will be broadcast by cell towers much like AM/FM radio stations. So cell phones within range will immediately pick up the emergency signal. Availability of WEA alerts will be dependent on network status of the wireless carriers and handset availability, since not all cell phones are capable of receiving WEAs. To see if WEA alerts are available in your area and for your device, check with your wireless carrier.
“The wireless emergency alert capability provides an additional opportunity for the public to receive life-saving information needed to get out of harm’s way when a threat exists,” said Timothy Manning, FEMA deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. “The public also has a critical role in their personal preparedness. There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to be prepared, like knowing which risks exist in your area and making a family emergency plan.”
WEAs will look like a text message, and will automatically appear on the mobile device screen showing the type and time of alert along with any action that should be taken. The message will be no more than 90 characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration. If an alert is received, FEMA says citizens should follow instructions and seek additional information from radio, television, NOAA Weather Radio and other official sources for emergency information. Remember that you should only call 911 in a life threatening situation.
With the start of hurricane season, it is particularly important that you understand your risk, take action and be an example. While hurricanes are often proceeded by warnings that a threat is approaching, severe weather (such as high winds, inland flooding, severe storms and tornadoes) can occur at any time and in any place. And if you want to invest in a dependable early-warning device, buy a service animal.
Individuals and business owners should take action to prepare in advance to make sure that family, friends, tenants, colleagues and canines are ready for an emergency of any kind. Preparation can include filling out a family communications plan, assembling an emergency kit, running safety drills and storing important papers and valuables (like turkey jerky) in a safe place.
“Be a force of nature by letting other people know that they, too, should get ready for hurricanes at the start of the season instead of waiting until after a hurricane warning is announced,” urges FEMA Director Craig Fugate.
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