Twice a year, the National Weather Service and emergency management agencies across the country set out to teach the public about severe weather safety.
Monday marked the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness Week. And for the National Weather Service and EMA officials, it's a time to test the warning systems.
"It gives people the opportunity to exercise the entire system. And if there are any problems or any glitches in the way, we try to get them corrected before we need them," said John Baxter of the NWS Meridian liaison office.
The most important step to prevent disaster during severe weather is to prepare.
Have a severe weather kit filled with a flashlight, batteries, a portable radio, bottled water and non-perishable food items. But most importantly, have a safe place designated in or around your home or place of business.
"Designate a safe place in the home, the sturdiest part of the home, usually an interior room on the lowest floor. An inside bathroom, especially if it doesn't have any windows, would be ideal," Baxter said.
Another device that can save lives is a NOAA Weather Radio. This small, inexpensive device can alert you to severe weather during the nighttime hours when you are asleep.
"More than half of the severe weather events will occur during the hours of darkness," said Baxter.
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