Editorial: Be ready for severe weatherHeading into another severe weather season, it’s important to be prepared. The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs Division of Emergency Management advises the public to listen, act and live. Listening to warnings and seeking shelter immediately will save lives.
Heading into another severe weather season, it’s important to be prepared.
The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs Division of Emergency Management advises the public to listen, act and live. Listening to warnings and seeking shelter immediately will save lives.
Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. In 2011, 38 tornadoes in Wisconsin were confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS), the fourth highest number on record. The earliest outbreak occurred on April 10. On Aug. 19, a man was killed when a tornado with winds of 105 mph struck Marinette County. Five others were injured in 2011.
A year earlier, 46 tornadoes in Wisconsin were confirmed by the NWS, the second greatest yearly number on record. Fortunately, no one was killed, but 22 were injured and the tornadoes caused nearly $30 million in property damage. The peak tornado season in Wisconsin is April to August, but tornadoes can occur any time of year, like the Jan. 7, 2008, storms near Kenosha.
Tornado safety tips have been given for when people are at home, work or play, as follows:
—In a home or building, avoid windows. Move to a basement and get under a sturdy table or the stairs. A specially constructed “safe room” within a building offers the best protection. Use an internet search engine and search for “safe room” for more information.
—If a basement is not available, move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and cover up with anything close at hand: towels, blankets, pillows. If possible, get under a sturdy table, desk or counter. Put as many walls as possible between oneself and the storm.
—If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If unable to quickly walk to shelter, get into a vehicle, buckle the seatbelt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while a vehicle is being driven, pull over and park. There are two options as a last resort—stay in the vehicle with the seatbelt on and place head below the windows or, if getting safely and noticeably lower than the roadway is possible, exit the vehicle and lie down in that area, covering head with hands. (Don’t seek shelter under an overpass.)
—Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. Leave a mobile home and go to the designated storm shelter or the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building.
—At school, follow the drill. Go to the interior hall or room. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of the head with the arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
Before the storm:
—Develop a plan for self and family for home, work, school and outdoors. Know the safest shelter areas in multiple locations.
—Have frequent drills.
—Keep a disaster supply kit in the home, including water, food that won’t spoil and needs no heat to serve, first-aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio (also known as an Emergency Weather Radio), a flashlight, and special items for children and elderly family members.
Also before the storm, the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin, Inc., recommends conducting a home inventory. Use a camera phone or video recorder to document the rooms and items in the house. Store that documentation off-site.
Should tragedy strike, take the following steps:
—Once assured all family members are unharmed or have been taken to the appropriate care giver, contact an insurance agent and give the agent an idea of the damage. Standard homeowners and auto policies cover storm and wind damage.
—Take detailed photos of the damage to the home, contents and vehicles, and give copies to an insurance agent.
—Insurance companies will send an adjuster to survey the damage to the home and vehicles before determining the total damage. While it may be tempting to start the clean-up, don’t do anything until after the adjuster has seen the damage…unless needing to make repairs. If the roof or other area is damaged and wind or water could enter the building, temporary repairs should be made to prevent further damage.
—If staying in a hotel or eating at restaurants is a must while the house is under repair, keep those receipts, as the insurance company will typically reimburse for them.
—If the home will require extensive repairs, talk only with legitimate contractors and obtain quotes. After a storm, hustlers frequently canvass areas promising speedy repair work…but they often take a deposit and are never seen again.
—If a claim seems to be taking a long time, contact a local, professional insurance agent and have the agent contact the insurance company. They can find out what is causing the delay and escalate the claim as needed.