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Week aims to raise weather awareness

By Richard Rourk

With weather in East Tennessee swinging in recent weeks from mild to wild on any given day, a week dedicated to making citizens more aware of weather and its effects is arriving at an opportune time.

According to Unicoi County Emergency Management Director Jimmy Erwin, Tennessee’s Severe Weather Awareness Week runs from Feb. 28 to March 6 and offers a perfect time to promote preparedness to Tennesseans.

“NWS offices in Nashville, Memphis, Morristown and Huntsville, Alabama, 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,” Erwin said. “Information on the NWS activities is available at”

Erwin explained that a highlight of the week will be the statewide tornado drill NWS conducted at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3.

The drill will also include a statewide test of NOAA weather radios. Some basic severe weather advice includes:

• Never venture into high water, either on foot or in a vehicle.

• If one is outside and hears thunder, go indoors immediately.

• Go to a basement or an innermost, first-floor room in one’s home if told to take shelter during a tornado warning.

• Know the location of and route to tornado shelters.

• 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. According to Erwin, 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,” Erwin said. “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, copies of important family documents, and extra supplies of medications, especially for those with chronic health conditions.”

Erwin acknowledged that TEMA would have daily social media messages and themes to bring awareness to severe weather. “During Severe Weather Awareness Week, each day will focus on a new hazard or topic,” Erwin said. “We can all take action to prepare. We are all able to help first responders in our community by training how to respond during an emergency and what to do when disaster strikes — where we live, work and visit.”

He noted that the goal of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to increase the overall number of individuals, families and communities that are educated and prepared for the unique threats and natural hazards that face Tennessee.

TEMA and Tennessee National Weather Service offices will have daily messages on their Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the week. SWAW Hashtags: • #SWAW • #FloodSmart • #PrepareNow • #WeatherSafety Additional resources are available at, and