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State officials, meteorologists promoting preparedness for Severe Weather Awareness Week

From Staff Reports

Tennessee’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is Feb. 26, to Mar. 4, 2017, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), and the National Weather Service (NWS) are asking Tennesseans to make severe weather planning and preparedness a priority.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Severe Weather Awareness Week proclamation is online at:

“One of TEMA’s priorities is to help Tennesseans have access to information to ensure they can prepare for any variety of man-made, natural, and technological hazards or disasters,” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “While severe weather, especially tornadoes, can occur any time in Tennessee, they are most common during the spring months of March, April, and May. We want Tennesseans and our visitors to pay attention to and understand the weather, ensure they have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings, and have a plan to get  themselves and their loved ones to safety when severe weather warnings are issued.”

TEMA will be hosting a Facebook Live event at 10 a.m., CST, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, as part of the agency’s effort to help Tennesseans understand the hazards and threats of severe weather.  TDH and NWS representatives will also participate in Facebook Live session

NWS Awareness and Education Events

NWS offices in Nashville, Memphis, Morristown, and Huntsville, Ala. are planning a series of education and training events, using each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week to focus on a different severe weather threat. Information on the NWS activities is available

“Although it seems the past two springs have been relatively quiet as far as severe weather, all Tennesseans know that it’s not if we’re going to see severe weather, but merely when,” said Krissy Hurley, warning coordination meteorologist at NWS Nashville.

A highlight of the week will be the statewide tornado drill NWS will conduct at 9:30 a.m., CST, on Wed., Mar. 1.  The drill will also include a statewide test of NOAA weather radios.

Be Ready, Make a Plan, Have a Kit

TDH urges Tennesseans to make emergency plans now before a flood, tornado, or other threat is imminent, so they have time to decide what actions they should take to protect themselves.

“Like the slogan says: be ready, make a plan and have a kit. We want to be proactive don’t we, taking a little time before a weather emergency is coming to start thinking about what we need to do to protect ourselves and the people and places we love?” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “That way we are ready whether we ‘saw it coming’ or not, and isn’t that the best way to keep everyone safe?”

TDH recommends thinking about the weather events in your area or while you travel and making a plan before the crisis comes. It is best to write it down but at a minimum, talk with your family about where you’ll meet, how you’ll communicate and where to go if you need to evacuate or can’t return home. Put an emergency kit together so you’re ready in the event of severe weather.

The most important preparedness tip for severe weather is to stay informed to its potential.  Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV or listen to the radio for weather updates and warnings.

Other severe weather awareness tips and resources include:

  • Never venture into high water, either on foot or in a vehicle.
  • If you’re outside and hear thunder, go indoors immediately.
  • Go to a basement or an innermost, first floor room in your home if you’re told to take shelter during a tornado warning.
  • Know the location of and route to your office or building’s tornado shelter.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado.
  • Have an emergency plan ready at places where your family spends time – work, school, daycare, commuting and outdoor events.
  • Emergency plans should include where to meet, and who family members should check in with, if you are separated from family members during a severe weather emergency.

At a minimum, emergency preparedness kits should include one gallon of water per-day, per-person, and per-pet, for three to five days. The kit should also have enough non-perishable food for each family member, and pets, for three to five days.

Other items that every kit should include:  flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, personal hygiene items, cell phone charger or solar charger, and copies of important family documents.

It is also very important that emergency kits contain extra supplies of medications, especially for those with chronic health conditions.

Online Preparedness Resources

A number of websites provide resources to help with the creation of emergency plans.  The website, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,, have information, fill-in-the-blank documents, and other resources to help individuals and families assemble the basic components needed for personal emergency plans.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has emergency preparedness information for businesses  The Ready website also includes a workplace preparedness section at