The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is encouraging Hoosiers to plan ahead for extreme weather as part of Severe Weather Preparedness and Flood Awareness Week, March 19-25.

“The arrival of spring in Indiana means an increased threat for severe weather,” said John Erickson, Director of Public Affairs at IDHS. “This year, Hoosiers across the state have already experienced some of the severe weather that accompanies spring, and this week serves as a great reminder to prepare now before any future severe weather strikes.”

Planning and preparation can help minimize weather-related deaths, injuries and property damage. IDHS is encouraging Hoosiers to build a preparedness kit, identify shelter and practice their plan during this year’s preparedness week. Ten important items to include in your family's disaster kit include:

  1. Food and water for three days (include one gallon of water per person, per day)
  2. Battery operated all hazard radio (receives more than 60 types of emergency alerts)
  3. Flashlight
  4. Extra batteries for radio and flashlight, if needed
  5. First aid kit
  6. Extra clothing, sturdy shoes, rain gear, blankets and personal hygiene items
  7. List of emergency phone numbers
  8. Important documents (copies of photo ID, social security card, insurance and banking information)
  9. Cash (small bills. Power outages can limit ability to use ATMs and credit cards)
  10. Special items (baby formula, insulin, life sustaining medication, pet supplies)

As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, on Tuesday, March 21, there will be a statewide tornado drill at 10:10 a.m. and 7:35 p.m. These drills provide a valuable opportunity for families, schools and businesses to practice their severe weather emergency plans. Some ways families can practice during the statewide tornado drill are:

  • Take household members – quickly but calmly – to the location they would move to in severe weather, ideally a basement. If a basement is not available, go to an interior room on the lowest level with no windows. Storm cellars also offer excellent protection.
  • Practice moving under a sturdy table or desk, or covering up with pillows, blankets, coats or a mattress to protect the head and body from flying debris.
  • Walk through potential evacuation routes, both from the home and the neighborhood.
  • Conduct a family drill in which children pretend to call 911 and calmly talk with an emergency dispatcher (a family member or friend can be on the other end of the line, requesting appropriate information).

Finding suitable shelter is another important aspect to preparing for severe weather, such as a storm or tornado. If living in a mobile home or similar structure, it is important to locate a safe shelter in advance. For those living in homes or apartment buildings, residents should take shelter in the lowest level of the building, away from windows and doors.

Flooding is also an issue Hoosiers may encounter during the spring months. Driving on flooded roadways can often place Hoosiers and emergency response personnel in unnecessary danger. Never drive through flooded roadways, even if the water appears shallow. The road may have washed out under the surface of the water. Floods can be very expensive. The National Flood Insurance Program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and purchasing flood insurance is a way that homeowners can protect their homes. FEMA’s FloodSmart website at www.FloodSmart.gov has created a tool to quickly estimate the cost of damages from various amounts of floodwater in a home, and includes resources to help homeowners prepare their homes for a flood.

To find out more about preparing for severe weather and floods, visit www.GetPrepared.IN.gov.