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As Severe Weather Approaches, Prepare, Stay Informed and Have a Plan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With the potential for severe weather across the plains and several Midwestern states the remainder of this week and into the weekend, staff at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region VII office are coordinating with state and local officials in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska and urge the public to prepare to stay safe.

 “With the threat of severe weather developing, we urge residents to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local newscasts, monitor digital media feeds for updates and follow the instructions provided by local emergency officials,” said FEMA Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman. “As folks make their weekend plans, this severe weather threat is a reminder everyone needs to remain vigilant as we can’t always anticipate when or where a disaster might strike.”

Make A Plan! 
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance. For more information on creating your family’s emergency plan, visit

Have an Emergency Supply Kit!
To prepare for power outages and the disruption of essential services, FEMA urges families to prepare an emergency supply kit for their homes and cars. For more information, visit  When preparing a kit, remember water, medications, and items needed for the well-being of your pets.

Stay Informed!
Pay attention to and follow instructions from local emergency officials.

FEMA App Has Weather Alerts (NEW!)
Download the FEMA app (available in English and Spanish, for Apple, Blackberry and Android) to get severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service,

Social Media—A great monitoring tool!
Most local emergency managers, state and government agencies, including the National Weather Service, have an active social media presence and use it to provide fast, current and critical information before, during and after emergencies. Consider following the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram handles of your local emergency management office, as well as hospitals, schools and voluntary organizations serving your community.

If you don’t already have one, consider using a social media list to monitor the severe weather threat; how local officials are responding; and what they may ask of you and your family.  @FEMARegion7 on Twitter has created social media lists for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Subscribe to your state’s use it as a template to create your own. Learn and chat about creating Twitter and Facebook lists using #PrepList.

Tips for Severe Weather Safety! 
If you have severe weather in your area, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Become familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard and talk to your family about what you will do if a watch or warning is issued. Here are the terms you need to know:
  • WATCH: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornados).
  • WARNING: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions.
  • If there’s a tornado warning, you’ll need to know what to do no matter where you are. Learn more before the storms arrive,
  • DISTANCE TO SAFE ROOM MATTERS: While community safe rooms offer significant reassurance and protection during a severe weather event, always make the safe and certain choice about where to seek shelter – particularly if there is little time to travel to the location of the community safe room. It is always best to seek shelter in your basement or in the lowest possible structure in your residence if time and warning are limited when severe weather hits.
  • LOCATION MATTERS: Know your surroundings and your structures if you’re planning to attend an event, take vacation, visit family, or if you are staying in a location other than your home like a hotel, campground or cabin. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the facility’s emergency plans including: sirens and warnings, how to shelter in place, and steps to be taken in the event of an evacuation.
  • MOBILE HOMES: Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. Residents of mobile homes must plan in advance and identify safe shelter in a nearby building.
  • FLOODING: Be aware that flash flooding can occur within minutes and with little notice.  If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.  Do not wait for instructions to move. Do not drive through flood water. When you see flood waters ahead: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • SAFETY AFTER THE STORM: Injury may occur when people walk amid disaster debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.

Be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in or around your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards and before going back to a property with downed power lines, or the possibility of a gas leak. Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.  They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.