DES MOINES, Iowa — Warmer weather means we’re free of blizzards and polar vortexes. But now we have other hazards to consider, like thunderstorms, flash flooding, and tornadoes – all of which we saw in 2018.
The last week of March is Severe Weather Awareness Week and it serves as a reminder of how Iowans can prepare for severe weather.
Polk County Emergency Management said the most important step to preparedness is being able to receive warnings when severe weather, like a tornado, is near. You could hear the sirens outside or get an alert from a weather or news source app, like the 13WarnMe app, on your phone.
“We always encourage people to understand other layers of receiving that warning either through a phone app, a weather alert radio, or broadcast media,” Polk County Emergency Management Director A.J. Mumm said.
These apps will alert you at the onset of a number of different kinds of severe weather.
“Seek shelter from lightning, hail, high winds, heavy rain, hail, flash flooding, so it’s a long list and it’s a long list of things that can really turn our lives upside down, we saw that here in the metro area last summer,” Mumm said.
When tornadoes ripped through Iowa last July, Iowans were surprised but prepared. Polk Country Emergency Management said the first critical step after receiving an alert for a tornado is getting inside and going to the lowest, most interior room of your house.
After getting to safety, a part of your emergency plan should include an emergency kit. This needs to have three days of water and food. A big part of this emergency kit is keeping all your important medications and documents, like a driver’s license or birth certificate or insurance, together and in an easy place to quickly grab.
“All of the very important documentation that you have probably spread around the house and on a day-to-day basis you probably know where to go and get it but obviously a tornado can change everyone’s lives within a matter of seconds. So, having that information pulled together in a safe place, maybe in a safe or a copy in a safe deposit box is a very good practice,” Mumm said.
One of the most important things people can do to protect their property is annually reviewing their insurance. Auto insurance, life insurance and homeowner’s insurance.
“That includes flood insurance, most people don’t know that flood insurance isn’t included on your homeowner’s insurance. You can also get a rider on your insurance policy for sump pump failure, we saw a lot of that last June and July, the sump pumps just couldn’t keep up,” Mumm said.
Insurance may be able to replace some of your belongings, but they can’t replace old photos or treasured documents, Munn recommends making a digital copy of those just in case.