Lookout, it’s tornado seasonBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 1, 2021
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We have all been preoccupied, and rightly so, by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has required quite a bit of energy, masking up, distancing up and washing up. We have been in a chase to create and distribute vaccines. Hopefully most people will decide to take the steps of waiting on the phone or online to schedule vaccine appointment. We have been so busy that many of us are quite frankly unaware of the time of year we are now approaching.
Well, some people may notice that their allergy symptoms have suddenly reappeared, while others may say they are grateful and hopeful for warm weather. I want you to be aware that we are currently in that part of the year when we often see severe weather. Yes, it is tornado season.
The pandemic adds to the usual worries of this time of year. Our plans must include maneuvers such as a disaster plan that will keep us safe.
If you do not have such a plan, let me encourage you to create one for your family and home. Your plan should include the actual route of how each family member would leave the house and a place where everyone will meet outside. Designate safe areas in your home to use during a tornado warning. Those safe areas are usually internal rooms of the home located on a lower level far from windows.
I also encourage people to establish cell phone groups so you may know the whereabouts of relatives and loved ones. You may be able to text as long as cell service is available. Make sure your safety and evacuation plans include your most vulnerable family members and friends.
Practice the long-observed tradition of having an easily accessible packed bag with 3-5 days of medication and a few essentials in case you need to vacate your home. Those essentials may need to be updated to include a charger for the phone, and a mask. Have a battery-operated radio with extra batteries available in order to hear information from area emergency management.
You need to have three to five days of drinking water and food that can be prepared without cooking. Pack blankets for warmth. Due to the increased frequency of powerful storms and tornadoes, many people are having their homes outfitted with generators that turn on during a power outage. Other generators are gas powered and should never be placed inside a home due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have gas stored to use in outdoor portable generators. Some generators are solar powered but have gas on hand in case the sun is not shining.
Have some cash on hand. Though the “card” is king, ATM machines may not work during a power outage or may be out of cash so have your own stash.
Gas your cars up before inclement weather strikes. Make sure you have toys for the kids. Try to create an environment in which children are not afraid and look at this as an adventure.
In this time of COVID-19, we may need to revise our plans for severe weather. Take the time and do it now while you have the time to reflect and plan. Last minute plans are often rushed and leave out essentials. Above all be safe.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.