Weekly Columns

This past winter brought a great deal of snow, sleet and ice to Arkansas and along with it, all the dangers that come along with these types of severe weather. 

If there is anything that can be learned for our circumstances this winter, it is the need to be prepared. 

Now that spring is upon us, we have a different form of extreme weather to deal with—tornadoes.

Tornadoes are among the most violent weather conditions we face. While weather patterns that may produce tornadoes are unpredictable, there are still steps we can take to protect our families and help our communities before the sirens sound. 

Since 1943, the President of the United States has proclaimed March as “Red Cross Month.” It’s still as necessary today. 

As one of the nation’s best known humanitarian organizations, the Red Cross has been helping families and communities recover from disasters for over 130 years. 

I encourage all Arkansans to take steps recommended by the Red Cross to be prepared. There are three keys to being “Red Cross Ready”—get a kit, make a plan and be informed. 

  • Get a Kit: At a minimum, have basic supplies together and at hand to evacuate and survive. These include water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, flashlights, battery-charged radio, extra batteries, cell phone charger and cash, among other items. Ensure everyone in your household knows where to find this kit in the event of an emergency.
  • Make a Plan: In the event you need to evacuate immediately, the Red Cross encourages you to identify two ways to escape from every room in the home, practice your escape plan at least twice a year and select a safe location away from the home where your family can meet after escaping.
  • Be Informed: Know what actions to take to protect yourself and your family from the various disasters that could strike your community. Identify how local authorities will notify you and know the differences between various weather alerts. 

Along with helping you and your family prepare, the Red Cross has opportunities to help your community in advance of a disaster as well. 

The organization’s #BeAHero campaign recognizes “Everyday Heroes” who in some way help their individual community by giving of themselves and encourages others to #BeAHero too by giving blood, taking a first aid and CPR class and developing a plan for emergencies. 

Taking these basic preparedness actions can help us prepare for a variety of disasters. If you would like more information, go to the Red Cross website which includes a downloadable emergency preparedness kit shopping list, emergency contact card and instructions for creating a family communication plan.

We all need to be prepared, if you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to do something about it. Together, we can make Arkansas a safer place to live, work and play, by being prepared. Being prepared and helping our neighbors is timeless. I encourage you to take the time now to be prepared should disaster strike.