Posted by: Tod Pritchard, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Wisconsin Emergency Management
You have the power to save lives… you just don’t realize it yet. You have the power to tell your family, friends and co-workers how critically important it is to be ready for severe weather. Be a Force of Nature.
What does that mean? Here in Wisconsin we’re spreading the word on lessons learned from the terrible storms of 2011. The unimaginable lost of life in the Joplin, Missouri tornado last year should be a wake up call to everyone. A National Weather Service study of that tornado uncovered two disturbing discoveries. Most people did not take shelter when they first heard the tornado warning. And the truly amazing insight into human behavior, people needed between two and nine confirmations of the danger before they took action. Unfortunately the minutes spent looking for that confirmation (going outside and looking in the sky, calling a friend, writing on Facebook, etc) cost lives.
My message is simple: Listen, act and live. When there is a risk of severe weather, listen for the warnings on whatever device works best for you, be it a NOAA Weather Radio, broadcast radio and TV, a smart phone app, etc. When there is a tornado warning take action. Don’t waste your time confirming what you already know. You are at risk and you need to find the safest place possible immediately.
We’re all human. Our brains are wired to search out information. We all want to know if this tornado is real and am I really in danger. But that curiosity is costly. With current technology the average lead time we have between a tornado warning and a tornado touchdown is only 13 minutes. Don’t waste those minutes… Listen, act and live. Those three words helped save the lives of a Park Falls, Wisconsin couple who listened to their emergency weather radio during a tornado outbreak, took action and survived.
On July 27, 2010, Larry and Rita Krznarich were camping on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage between Park Falls and Mercer. Just after 7pm, their emergency weather radio alerted them that a tornado was coming. They immediately told campers nearby and everyone took cover. Larry was injured in the tornado but Rita and others were ok. Everything at the campsite was destroyed. “There was debris in chunks flying through the air” said Rita Kznarich. “If you’ve ever heard one tree fall you can imagine 50 trees all cracking and falling around you."
Larry and Rita believe that without the warning alert from their emergency weather radio - giving them the chance to seek cover - they would be dead. They are sharing their story in a powerful new TV public service campaign in hopes that more lives can be saved.
In the public service announcement, Rita and Larry urge everyone to buy an emergency weather radio. “Ever since the storm we’ve given weather radios to people as gifts. You can get them for $20 or in that range so there’s no excuse not to have one or many.”
You can see their story on the Ready Wisconsin website.
Be a Force of Nature. Pledge to prepare at www.ready.gov/severeweather. When you are ready, you and your family have a greater chance of survival. And share that life saving message with the people closest to you.