Contributed by Volunteer Prince William
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is focusing on tornado preparedness throughout the month of March. Although according to Bonnie Nahas, emergency preparedness coordinator at Volunteer Prince William, “Tornadoes occur year-round and last year, the majority of tornadoes occurred during hurricane season. Since hurricane season is just around the corner, it’s important to be prepared.”
Nahas has ten suggestions on how you and your family can prepare for tornadoes. Seek out families or businesses that were impacted by a tornado and ask if they will be willing to act as your agency’s or organization’s spokesperson. They could present to civic and faith based organizations as well as schools, businesses or take part in media interviews. This person can tell others how they prepared or if they didn’t prepare, how much easier the recovery would have been if they had prepared. Nahas said, “People are more willing to listen to “real people” from their community who can speak first-hand about their experience.”
Secondly, contact companies, churches, organizations and associations to see if they can insert some tornado preparedness tips in an upcoming newsletter or bulletin.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and school groups often are willing to put together disaster supply kits as a special project. Provide a list of supplies for a basic kit and encourage them to use their contacts in the community to gather donated supplies. Consider inviting the media to the disaster supply kit assembling party so they can publicize the good works and the businesses
and/or individuals will receive recognition for their efforts. “Volunteer Prince William offers emergency planning seminars to families, seniors, school-age groups and provides free supply starter kits to participants,” said Nahas.
Groups are encouraged to organize public safety fairs and invite representatives from the fire and police departments. Nahas said, “Kids love visuals like fire trucks, police cars and costumed characters. Demonstrations, contests and mini-seminars bring home the message fair more clearly and concisely. Kids that were educated in Prince William County still remember “STOP, DROP and ROLL” from their second grade curriculum.”
Radio stations play PSA (public service announcements) to educate the community and prepare them for disaster preparedness. Cable access programs also will set up interviews to discuss this important topic.
Local grocery and hardware stores can promote disaster supply kit items and can be encourage to sell some of those items at reduced prices for a limited time.
If a tornado damages another area of the state, use it as an opportunity to talk about tornado safety and how the agency/organization would respond if it happened in your community.
Be sure to reach out to the Spanish speaking community by inserting safety tips in a Spanish newspaper. Recruit a spokesperson to record a PSA and send it to local Spanish radio and cable stations.
And finally, send an e-mail with tornado preparedness tips and information to all community emergency response team volunteers and ask them to forward it to family, friends and colleagues.
For more information about these tornado preparedness tips, please go to Volunteer Prince William’s website and log onto: www.volunteerprincewilliam.org.
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