by Tim Church
BRANSON, Mo. – Taney County joins the National Weather Service and other emergency managers across the state on Tuesday, March 15th for the annual Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill.
This 1:30 p.m. drill is part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs from March 13th through the 19th.
According to a release from the City of Branson, this special event is designed to test emergency outdoor warning sirens, activation of NOAA Weather Radios and to educate the public about severe weather safety with one key goal in mind– to save lives.
Both Branson and Forsyth have been designated as Storm Ready Communities by the National Weather Service in Springfield. In Branson alone there are 23 outdoor warning sirens located throughout the city.
“We encourage folks to become familiar with the key terms used by the National Weather Service,” stated Branson Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Ted Martin. Remember that a thunderstorm or tornado watch means simply to watch the sky and to monitor changes in weather conditions. A thunderstorm or tornado warning means to take shelter immediately.
Stay Informed! Weather information is being disseminated to the public even quicker now with advancements in weather technology and communications with the public. “As watches and warnings are issued, we encourage the public to watch for changing weather conditions and to to stay informed as pertinent information is passed on quickly through the media resources and weather alert radios,” stated Chris Berndt, Taney County Emergency Management Director.
“One key tool to stay informed is by using the resources of a NOAA Weather Radio,” stated Martin. These radios provide instant and up-to-date weather information and severe weather warnings provided by the National Weather Service and may be programmed to activate for the specific county that you live in. They may also be activated for all-hazards risks including flash flooding, extreme cold and heat weather conditions and may even be activated for AMBER Alerts. These radios may be purchased for around $30.00 at many retailers.
“Citizens do need to realize outdoor warning sirens are designed to primarily warn people located outdoors near area attractions such as golf courses, city parks, and school athletic facilities, for example,” stated Martin. Outdoor warning sirens are also located in the communities of Forsyth, Taneyville, and Merriam Woods.
One additional resource provided by the City of Branson to help keep the public informed about severe weather and other emergency incidents is a phone-based system called “BransonALERTS.” This system is designed to place automated calls to residential and business phones in the City limits of Branson. This service now provides instant weather warnings and can even be sent to cellular phones, text messages, and e-mail. The public can learn more about and sign up for this free program on the City web site at www.bransonmo.gov.
Be Prepared – Know Where to Go! Being prepared and taking shelter are some of the top priorities if you are at home, school or work in the event of a severe storm or tornado. “Identify and use a place of shelter for home, work, and school – typically the lowest level of the building, preferably in an interior room with no windows. Try to get out of large open buildings to avoid injury should the roof collapse. Mobile homes and vehicles provide virtually no shelter in the event of a tornado. People should exit the mobile home and abandon a vehicle to seek shelter in a more secure building or low area such as a ditch then cover their head with their arms, coat or blanket,” added Berndt.