A photo from a booth in a gymnasium. There are tables and balloons set up in a college gymnasium space, with banners hanging from the ceiling and wooden bleachers in the background.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Me? I check the weather. The forecast sets the tone for my day, helps me decide what to wear, and lets me know if I should grab my umbrella or my sunglasses on my way out the door.

Weather affects our lives in so many ways and at FEMA we’re always paying close attention to the forecast.

We rely on timely, accurate weather models and forecasts so we can prepare the right resources to respond to severe weather events. We encourage everyone to pay attention to the weather too, especially since severe weather often arrives with little to no warning.

Starting to prepare for severe weather is easier than you may think, and it is something the whole family can do. In just one afternoon earlier this month, we helped hundreds of members of the public get their severe weather emergency planning started at Millersville University’s Public Weather Awareness Day.

This fun and free annual event brings together members of the campus and surrounding community to celebrate and learn about all things weather. Attendees were invited to practice using common weather instruments, watch demonstrations of a wave tank and a weather balloon, and even produce their own weathercast in front of a green screen, all while visiting with vendors to learn more about weather and emergency preparedness.

At FEMA’s booth, Karen, Susan, and Jacquetta recommended ways in which family emergency plans can be tailored to severe weather events, such as flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes. They explained the importance of creating an emergency kit that is tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities, older Americans, and family pets (these helpful tips include keeping extra prescriptions and toys and activities for kids). They also suggested fun ways for children to get involved in creating a family emergency kit, such as having a scavenger hunt so they can search for emergency items in their homes and decorating book bags to store all of the kit items.

The team also distributed handouts on emergency supply kits, emergency contact forms, preparedness brochures for families, older Americans, pets, disabilities, small business emergency plans, family emergency plans, and brochures in Spanish and Braille.

Preparing for severe weather can often take a backseat to other priorities, but it is extremely important and thankfully, very easy to start.

Our team was so encouraged to meet many people at the event who had already begun preparing their emergency kits and were eager to learn more.

Severe weather is an unfortunate fact of life, so it was also very encouraging to meet college students interested in pursuing careers in emergency management. If that sounds like something up your alley, or you know a college student who might be interested, we definitely have opportunities you can check out.

From the professional meteorologist to the casual storm tracker, the emergency manager to the average family with an emergency kit, it takes an entire community to be fully prepared for severe weather.

Start preparing today by talking with your family about creating an emergency preparedness kit and a communications plan. And keep an eye out for public weather or emergency preparedness events at your local colleges and universities; they’re a great way to engage with your community and get a tip or two about how to be better prepared.


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