Be a Force of Nature during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

force_of-Nature_iconKnow your risk. Take action. Be an example.

National Severe Storm Preparedness Week: March 3-9, 2013

Two years ago during this time, storms raked the central and southern United States, spawning more than 300 tornadoes, claiming hundreds of lives and ranking as one of the largest tornado outbreaks in US history.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agenda (FEMA) are continuing their partnership to increase public awareness of the hazards posed by severe weather and the common-sense steps we can all take to be better prepared. March 3 marks the start of the first-ever National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

As part of NOAA’s campaign to Build a Weather-Ready Nation, this week is all about what you can do to take a stand against severe weather. Being a force of nature means never bowing to extreme weather. It means taking appropriate actions before, during and after extreme weather strikes by knowing your risk, having a plan, building a kit and staying informed via a NOAA Weather Radio. It also means being connected to family, friends and neighbors and inspiring them to act. In the age of mobile technology and social media, this part has never been easier.

One of the most memorable examples of this type of life-saving behavior was from the 2011 March 2 tornadoes in Indiana. That day, after receiving a timely text from her husband about an imminent tornado, Stephanie Decker took immediate action and gathered her children in the basement. Shielding them from collapsing debris, Stephanie tragically lost parts of both of her legs. Her children, however, survived the storm without a scratch.

During this week, NOAA and FEMA are highlighting the importance of planning and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes. Being prepared to act quickly can be a matter of life and death.

Every year, thousands of people are impacted by severe weather threats such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Last year was the most active year in disasters in recent history, with more than 1,000 weather related fatalities, more than 8,000 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries and affects the whole community and because of this we are committed to supporting the safety of our communities and we’re calling on you to Pledge to Prepare and to help us Be a Force of Nature.

Every state in the U.S. has experienced tornadoes and severe weather and although some more than others- everyone is at risk and should take steps to prepare for when severe weather strike in your area. Knowing the most common weather hazards in your area, your vulnerability and what actions you should take can save your life and others.

Here is the President’s message encouraging the nation to be prepared:

Over the past year, devastating storms have tested the fabric of our Nation. From Tuscaloosa to Joplin, the Midwest to Appalachia, tornadoes have leveled communities and left profound suffering in their wake. Thousands of Americans have endured the pain of loss – loss of a home, a job, a dream, a loved one dearly held and forever missed. Yet, as winds have died and rains eased, communities have banded together and demonstrated a simple truth: that amid heartbreak and hardship, no one is a stranger.

During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and throughout the year, we renew our promise to meet a national tragedy with a national response. To help save lives, my Administration is partnering with communities across America to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards, including severe weather. We are working to improve the accuracy of tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings, giving individuals more time to get out of harm’s way. And with leadership from agencies across my Administration, we are collaborating with organizations at every level of government and throughout the private and non-profit sectors to strengthen preparedness and build resilience.

Our Nation continues to bear the impact of severe storms. When tornadoes swept across southern States and the Midwest earlier this year, we were touched by the echoes of hardship. Many Americans lost their homes and businesses; dozens lost their lives. As we reflect on these tragic outcomes, let us recommit to doing everything we can to protect our families and our communities. I encourage all Americans to prepare an emergency plan and build an emergency kit with food, water, and essential supplies in case of severe weather. When strong storms are approaching, it is critical that individuals and families take action to secure their safety and the safety of those around them. During a tornado warning, find shelter immediately and await instructions from local emergency management officials.

This week, we rededicate ourselves to strengthening personal and community preparedness before disaster strikes. To learn more about how to minimize risk before, during, and after tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, visit www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov.

–Barack Obama

A great way to get started is to download the Red Cross Preparedness Apps that are relevant to where you or your loved ones live. The apps contain simple steps and checklists you can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members plus a variety of other safety features.

Links:

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