Gov. Edwards declares Severe Weather Awareness Week

Staff Report
Debris in Prairieville from the EF-0 confirmed tornado that hit on Feb. 23.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared the week of Feb. 29 to March 4 to be “Severe Weather Awareness Week” in Louisiana. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), the National Weather Service (NWS) and other partners encourage the public to Get A Game Plan to protect themselves, their families and their homes in the event of severe weather.

“As we saw this week, severe weather can happen anywhere in the state,” said GOHSEP Director James Waskom. “Forecasting has improved, but there are still times when dangerous conditions develop quickly. We hope the public will follow Our Get A Game Plan message in order to protect your family, your home and your business. Be aware of the risks you face when severe weather strikes and develop your emergency plan. GOHSEP and our partners will be sharing important safety information through social media each day for Severe Weather Awareness Week.”

Meteorologist-in-Charge National Weather Service Ken Graham said, "The recent tornado outbreak in Louisiana reminds us how critical advanced preparedness is for you, your family, and your place of work.  When we issue severe weather warnings, know what action you need to take ahead of time as every second counts.  Help us as we strive to build a Weather-Ready Nation by having a plan well before the next storm strikes." 


Families and individuals should have an emergency plan that outlines what they will do if they have to shelter in place because of severe weather and what they will do if they have to evacuate during severe weather. Sheltering in place means going indoors, closing all windows and doors and staying put until the severe weather has passed and the all clear has been given by your local government.

You can get safety information from your local government through the local media, on a battery operated radio or through your parish’s alert system. Evacuating requires that individuals and families have a plan for where they will go if their homes are unsafe. Identify several friends, family members or others that you can stay with during an evacuation. Remember: when severe weather hits, your original evacuation place may not be available, so you should have a backup plan.

An important part of every family or person’s severe weather plan is packing an emergency kit that includes the items they will need in case they have to shelter in place or evacuate because of severe weather.

This kit should include, among other supplies: flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio and lantern, a first aid kit, canned food and a non-electric can opener, special medical items for any members of the family with special needs, high energy foods like peanut butter and jelly, crackers and granola bars, a utility knife, plastic sheeting, protective clothing and rainwear, a change of clothes for each family member and at least three gallons of water per person and pet.

Gathering supplies in one place will help families locate them in the event of a power outage. If a family must leave its home, the kit can go with them.

ONLINE RESOURCES: Louisiana residents can take simple steps to protect themselves, their families, their pets and their homes. GOHSEP provides detailed tips and information for how to respond in the event of a tornado, flooding, thunderstorm, hurricane or other severe weather. the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides detailed, zip code level weather information for the public on its Website.

Users can get information about severe weather warnings and alerts and also view forecasts from National Weather Service staff. the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) outlines what to do in many disaster scenarios on its preparedness site.

ALERT FM: a free App that allows GOHSEP to create and send digital alerts and messages based on geographic or organizational groups.  Messages are delivered to the data subcarrier of existing FM transmitters around the US.  Overlapping signals of FM stations ensure rapid message transmission even when other communication systems are disrupted.