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Severe Weather Awareness Week starts Monday

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:32 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:36 a.m. CDT

Union County Emergency Management will recognize Severe Weather Awareness Week starting Monday and ending Friday next week. Each day will focus on a specific weather-related topic.

Jo Duckworth, county emergency management director, encourages all businesses, schools, daycare centers, medical facilities and residents to participate in next week’s awareness week.

“I hope everyone participates,” Duckworth said. “We aren’t immune to severe weather, which we’ve learned in recent years. Employees and citizens need to know what to do or where to go in severe weather situations. People will react the way they are trained, and if they don’t know where to go, it could be catastrophic.”

That said, Wednesday will be the annual tornado drill. Duckworth said a test tornado warning will be issued around 10:15 a.m. that day, and at that time all sirens in Union County will sound.

“Knowing and practicing your plan will save lives in the event a tornado should occur,” Duckworth said.

Other weather-related topics being publicized by Duckworth next week include flash floods (Monday), warning receptions (Tuesday), severe thunderstorms (Thursday) and family preparedness day (Friday).

If flooding occurs, Duckworth warns citizens should get to higher ground, do not attempt to cross flowing streams and never drive through flooded roadways.

Tuesday focuses on where to receive watches and warnings.

Warnings can be received many places including on local television stations, radio, an all hazards weather radio, internet at www.weather.gov., on Twitter and Facebook, by siren if outdoors and through cell phones and other mobile data devices via text message.

You do not have to sign up to receive this text message.

If you are at home or traveling in an area where a warning has been issued, your phone will receive text alerts broadcast by nearby cell towers. If your phone is unable to receive the alerts, your phone will receive an alert that resembles a text message.

When receiving an alert, you should follow any action advised by the emergency message and seek additional details. The service is free of charge and messages will not count toward texting limits on wireless plans.

Thursday focuses on severe thunderstorms. Duckworth said, historically, more damage has occurred in Union County because of severe thunderstorms than any other type of weather event. Severe thunderstorms are capable of producing tornado equivalent straight winds, large hail, dangerous lightning, flash flooding and even tornadoes.

Duckworth said severe thunderstorm warnings should never be taken lightly.

Friday focuses on family preparedness day. Duckworth recommends taking a few minutes on Friday to check out your 72-hour family preparedness kit.

“If you don’t have one, now is a great time to get started,” Duckworth said. “It is also a good day to practice your home family plans for fire, weather and other hazardous events.”

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