By Trisha Gedon
Special to The Sun
Now that spring has officially arrived, Oklahomans know they need to get ready for storm season.
Although the winter season was relatively mild, aside from the record-breaking snow in the northwest part of the state, residents are well aware the spring season can wreak havoc across the state and send people scurrying for shelter.
The National Weather Service in Norman states on its website that the Edmond area has a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon, with the possibility of severe storms. The day overall will be mostly cloudy with a high temperature near 78 degrees. Tonight’s low is expected to be around 31 degrees with an 80 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. The weather is expected to turn cooler by Wednesday with high predicted at 47 degrees and a 40 percent chance of showers before noon.
The Weather Service predicts large hail as the primary concern with this storm system across northwest and central Oklahoma, but said there remains a low tornado threat mainly over southwest Oklahoma and western north Texas from 1-9 p.m. today.
Being prepared ahead of storm season is essential not only for the safety of your family, but also for peace of mind, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.
“If you’ve lived in Oklahoma for any length of time, you’re well aware spring storms can quickly turn into a weather emergency,” Peek said. “When any of the meteorologists on the news are telling you to take shelter, that’s not the time to get your shelter prepared. It’s wise to get in your shelter now to get prepared for the impending storm season.”
In the event of a weather emergency, you do not want to have to take cover in a shelter full of spiders or standing water. Dealing with a tornado is nerve wracking enough without dealing with less-than-desirable surroundings.
If you have standing water in your storm shelter, Peek suggests inspecting the shelter to determine how water is getting in. Repair any holes and cracks to help keep out moisture. Divert water away from the entrance. This will go a long way in preventing water from getting into the shelter.
“Try to use nontoxic methods to get rid of spiders or other insects. Seal up any cracks where critters may be entering the shelter,” she said.
Once the shelter is cleaned up and ready to be inhabited, prepare an emergency kit of essentials in the event you have to stay in the shelter for an extended period of time.
“Include things such as nonperishable foods, can opener, flashlights, extra batteries, a battery operated radio and a first aid kit,” Peek said. “Bottled water is essential, too. Plan on about one gallon of water per person per day. Also, make sure everyone is wearing shoes when you take cover in the shelter. Your feet will need to be protected in the event of storm damage when you emerge from the shelter.”
Think about all of the daily needs, as well as the special needs your family may have. Families with babies and small children should pack diapers, formula and other child-related essentials. Older adults will have their own special needs that must be taken into consideration. Make sure you have medications ready to take into the shelter.
Because children can become frightened during a storm, a special stuffed toy or blanket should be in your emergency kit.
“A weather emergency is nerve wracking under any circumstances. If you’re prepared, knowing your family has what it needs for a few days is just one less thing to worry about in the midst of all the chaos a storm can cause,” Peek said. “Being prepared can help ensure there is less risk for injury and more likely everyone will come out of the storm safe and sound.”