• Top 5: FEMA turns to social media

  • Social media is everywhere these days, and emergency preparedness is no exception.

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  • Social media is everywhere these days, and emergency preparedness is no exception.
    This week, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 7, which includes Missouri and Kansas, used Twitter to teach citizens why they should make their own emergency preparedness list and how they could use the Internet to get ready.
    Today marks the end of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, and while the thunderstorms forecast for this weekend likely won’t pose any major problems, the first day of spring – March 20 – and more potential severe weather are just around the corner.
    The Examiner used Twitter in gathering this Top 5 list of ways to get prepared for the severe weather season.
    A virtual emergency preparedness list, according to FEMA, is similar to a “file cabinet drawer” filled with emergency personnel Twitter user names that residents might need to reference during a crisis.
    The Twitter Help Center guides users on how to create a list and how to add/remove people from a list. In a sample list for Missouri residents, FEMA suggested following media outlets, school districts, the Red Cross, the National Weather Service, local health departments, the state of Missouri, the Environmental Protection Agency and others.
    The National Weather Service out of Kansas City/Pleasant Hill also said to make a copy of all prescription medications, save them to a portable flash drive and carry the drive with you.
    “If you make an emergency preplist before a crisis, you can get information during one much faster and with less stress,” FEMA Region 7 posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
    If you missed this week’s Twitter discussion about emergency preparedness lists, visit twitter.com/femaregion7 for more information and links.
    Authorized government authorities can send Wireless Emergency Alerts to mobile carriers during extreme weather warnings and local emergencies that require evacuation or immediate action.
    Local and state public safety agencies, as well as FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service, are among the authorized government partners.
    The notifications resemble text messages and will suggest any action residents should take, as well as the agency that issued the alert.
    Visit www.ctia.org/wea or contact your wireless carrier for more information about the WEA-capable mobile devices and carriers.
    In preparation for a severe weather disaster, residents should have at least three to five days’ worth of food and water stored, according to FEMA. A supplies kit also should contain items to help manage potential time without electrical, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephone service.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately,” FEMA states on its Build A Kit website (www.ready.gov/build-a-kit). “You could get help in hours, or it might take days.”
    FEMA recommends the following, among other items, as necessities for a basic disaster supplies kit:
    • One gallon of water, per person per day, for drinking and sanitation;
    • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;
    • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with extra batteries;
    • A flashlight and extra batteries;
    • First-aid kit;
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    Medications also need to be planned ahead, as well, since pharmacies could be closed during a major emergency, FEMA said, or transportation might not be available to bring medication and supplies into the area.
    You don’t need to earn a degree in meteorology, but it helps to know the basics of severe storm terminology, especially the difference between a watch and a warning.
    According to the Storm Prediction Center, a “watch” means severe weather is possible during the next few hours. A “warning” means that severe weather has been observed or is expected soon. Watches and warnings are issued separately for thunderstorms and tornadoes.
    The Storm Prediction Center issues about 1,000 watches annually, while local National Weather Service offices (like the one in Pleasant Hill) issues warnings.
    As KS Capital Red Cross suggested in a tweet posted by FEMA Region 7, citizens can be an example in their community and teach others to also be prepared.
    One way to do this is to attend community gatherings related to severe weather preparedness. The city of Independence offers a free disaster preparedness class from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month.
    This month’s class, “You can keep your pets with you,” is March 23 at the Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple Ave. Call the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 816-325-7167 to register.

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