The likelihood of recovering from an emergency tomorrow often depends on planning and preparation done today.

The likelihood of recovering from an emergency tomorrow often depends on planning and preparation done today. Special situations like tornadoes and winter storms take preparations ahead of time to be safe during and after the storms.

Most tornadoes strike during late spring and summer, in late afternoon.

Is it a tornado watch or a warning?

A tornado watch means there is the possibility of a tornado in the area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted. Seek shelter immediately.

At home:

Go immediately to the basement or lowest floor if there is no basement. Stay in an inner room, away from windows and doors. Get beneath a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a desk or table.

Outdoors

If there are no buildings nearby, lie flat in a ditch. Cover your head with your arms or hands.

In a car:

Don’t ever try to out-drive a tornado if it is close, if it is moving toward you or if there is traffic. Get out of the car immediately. Look for a ditch to lie flat in. Don’t go beneath a bridge or highway underpass.

There’s not a second to waste when a tornado is approaching. Take shelter immediately.

Winter can bring a variety of dangerous weather conditions. These include blizzards, ice storms and bitter cold.

Is it a storm watch or a warning?

A winter storm watch means severe weather is possible. A winter storm warning means severe weather is approaching. Take precautions at home. Make sure you have enough heating fuel or wood if you use it for a source of heat. Winterize your home as much as possible. Add insulation to walls, install storm windows and weather strip doors. Wrap pipes in insulation or newspaper to keep them from freezing.

If your heat goes off during a winter storm:

Call for help right away. Close off unused rooms. Use blankets to seal off drafts, such as from under doors. Keep hands and feet warm (they are the most vulnerable to frostbite). Never burn charcoal indoors. Eat regularly so your body has energy for producing heat. Lower the thermostat to conserve fuel. Go out only if necessary.

If you are stuck in your car, stay there and wait for help. Attach a distress flag, bright piece of cloth or other bright object on the outside of your vehicle so it can be seen by rescuers.

Getting started

When making your emergency plan, think about:

People — consider each person you plan will cover, including special health needs that warrant health aids such as walker, hearing aids, special diet foods or sanitary undergarments. Pets — they aren’t generally allowed in public shelters, so look into boarding facilities that will take pets in an emergency. Money — if you need to evacuate, you may need fast access to cash. Keep some emergency money in a locked, waterproof, portable container. Store it with your other emergency supplies.

Get a kit of emergency supplies

Basic supplies for survival include food, water, clean air and any life-sustaining items you require to maintain your health, safety and independence. The first step to consider is how an emergency might affect your individual needs. Plan to make it on your own for at least three days. Consider two kits. In one kit, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own for a period of time. The other kit should be a light weight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to leave your home. One suggestion would be a backpack so you can strap it on and be hands free.

Recommended basic emergency supplies include

Water — at least one gallon of water per person for at least three days. Check dates and refresh supply every 6 months. Food — ready-to-eat or canned foods, fruits and vegetables, canned milk and juices, peanut butter, granola bars and other high energy foods, foods for special dietary needs Tools and other supplies include whistle, non-electric can opener, cups, plates, utensils, flashlight and extra batteries, battery-powered radio and extra batteries, matches in a waterproof container, fire extinguisher, plastic sheeting and duct tape, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels, hand wipes.

Important family documents

Licenses or other ID’s Social Security Cards Health Insurance Cards Immunization Records Birth and marriage certificates Record of bank accounts Credit cards Insurance policies Will, contracts and deeds

First Aid Kit should include:

Medications for each family member Bandages (sterile bandages and gauze pads of assorted sizes) Adhesive tape Elastic bandages Non-prescription medicines: Pain relievers, allergy medications

This is not an exhaustive list; brochures and information are available through McPherson County Council on Aging, 926 N. Main St., Suite B, or McPherson County Management and Communications, 1177 W. Woodside St., both in McPherson.