By Molly Rossberg
After the month of April saw a record-setting number of tornadoes touch down across the country, Emergency Services for the Charlottesville-Albemarle area want to make sure residents are prepared in case severe weather strikes.
All households must have a supply of bottled water and nonperishable food items on hand at all times, according to Marge Thomas, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and Albemarle County. Additionally, she said, an emergency kit that includes hygiene items, first aid items, sanitation supplies, a battery powered radio, a list of all medications being taken by the members of your family, clothes, blankets, flashlights, extra batteries, any items necessary for a family member with specific needs (an infant, the elderly, etc.), and a family emergency plan that includes your primary physician’s contact information should be put in an easily accessible place in your house.
After you gather your emergency supplies, Thomas says staying informed is key. When severe weather is approaching you can watch your local news channel, go online to the National Weather Service’s website (www.noaa.org), or listen to the radio. Thomas highly recommends buying a receiver for your radio that projects National Weather Service information on numerous frequencies about severe weather information in your area.
Western Albemarle High School is the designated emergency shelter for our area. However, according to Thomas, WAHS is not opened as a place to seek shelter from an approaching tornado, as certain amounts of staff and coordination are needed to run the shelter and there would not be enough time to do so. Families that don’t have a basement should head to a room without a window, such as a closet or bathroom, and take cover. Area residents who live in trailers should not stay in their trailer if a tornado is approaching because it is not safe. Thomas advises either seeking shelter in a nearby building or crouching in a ditch while protecting your head and neck.