National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - Monday

…Lightning and Lightning Safety - An Introduction…

This week is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

In the United States each year, there are between 20 and 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it is extremely dangerous. Based on data for the last 30 years (1984 to 2013), lightning has killed more than 1500 people in the United States, an average of 51 people per year based on documented cases.  In addition, during this same period, lightning has injured an estimated 15,000 people, some left with life-long neurological damage.

In addition to the deaths and injuries, lightning causes considerable damage across the nation.  Each year, lightning is the cause of about 25,000 fires, including about 4400 house fires, 1800 other structural fires, and numerous forest fires.  Those fires are responsible for an additional estimated 12 deaths per year.  All totaled, lightning causes nearly $1 billion in damages each year.

During the next several days, we’ll provide additional information on lightning and lightning safety.  We’ll cover what you can do to protect yourself from this dangerous killer.  Most importantly, we want you to remember that there is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm.  WHEN THUNDER ROARS…GO INDOORS!

Lightning Fact for Today:

The best protection from lightning is a substantial building.  If you can’t get inside a substantial building, a hard-topped metal vehicle will protect you from lightning. If the vehicle is struck, the lightning will follow the outer metal shell of the vehicle to the ground.  It’s important to make sure that you’re fully inside the vehicle with the windows rolled up. Note that the rubber tires do not prevent the vehicle from being struck, nor do they provide any protection.

Rip Current Awareness Week

Break The Grip of The Rip!

NOAA, the National Sea Grant Program, the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service want you to have a safe and enjoyable time at the beach or seashore. In an effort to heighten public awareness of rip currents at surf beaches, each year NOAA designates the first full week of June as national Rip Current Awareness Week, coinciding with the traditional start of the summer vacation season.

Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks or lightning. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

Another way to be #PREPARED2014 is to downlaod the Alabama SAF T NET weather alert app for severe weather #alwx

Critical Document Protection during a Disaster

When disaster strikes, your immediate concern will be your safety and the safety of those you care about. Once the immediate danger passes, however, having your families’ financial, medical records and important contact information protected and available will be critical in helping you start the recovery process. According to the 2013 Preparedness in America report, only 34 percent of participants reported having stored these critical documents. It is time to increase this percent and prepare more Americans!

Take the time now to think about the priceless personal items you would want to protect from damage or take with you if you had to suddenly evacuate your home. The first step is to take an inventory of your household documents, contacts and valuables. This includes items like:

  • Family identification paperwork (birth, marriage or divorce certificates, adoption or child custody papers);
  • Financial and legal documentation (insurance policies, mortgage, loan documents);
  • Medical information (health/dental insurance, list of medications, living will); and
  • Emergency or hotline contact information (employer, schools).

Once you have gathered your financial, legal and contact information, it is essential to safeguard this information. Consider storing paper copies of important documents at home in a fireproof and waterproof box or safe, in a bank safe deposit box or with a trusted friend or relative. Additionally, store electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected format on a removable flash or external hard drive in your fireproof and waterproof box or safe, or consider using a secure cloud-based service.

Next week we’ll follow up on this topic with how to protect yourself and family from identity theft during a disaster, stay tuned! Be Smart! Protect your critical documents and valuables during a disaster!

2014 National Climate Assessment Notes Severe Weather Increase

On Tuesday May 6 the White House released the 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA).  The assessment highlights climate changes that impact every corner of the country, from oyster growers in Washington State to maple syrup producers in Vermont.  One of the key findings in the assessment shows that the past decade was the country’s warmest on record, and that extreme weather events have increased in recent years.

According to the NCA, the changes in the climate could help fuel wildfires across the Southwest or cause heat waves and coastal flooding in the Northeast.  The NCA calls for quick action to mitigate the effects of climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for the next generation.

There are some quick and easy actions American citizens can take themselves to combat the threats from climate change.

  • Be Smart. Know what hazards are highly likely to occur in your region;
  • Take Part. Join community preparedness activities in your area; and
  • Prepare. Create emergency plans and kits should your family or business ever be affected by severe weather events. 

For more specific information on your region, the NCA breaks down the country by region and identifies specific threats should climate change continue.  To learn more about how to prepare for a disaster visit

National Hurricane Preparedness Week is Coming

With less than one month until the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, now is the time to prepare.  To kick-start the preparedness effort, the National Hurricane Center, FEMA and other organizations, have come together to promote the National Hurricane Preparedness Week May 25-31.

Each day of National Hurricane Preparedness Week there is a different educational theme:

If you’re using social media during National Hurricane Preparedness Week to share tips and activities, please use #HurricanePrep!  You can also follow @Citizen_Corps and @PrepareAthon for more hurricane information during this week.

FEMA urges Americans to take the time now to prepare their families and businesses for hurricanes and tropical storms before a disaster strikes.  Get started preparing now by learning the hurricane risks in your area and downloading the How to Prepare for a Hurricane Guide.

May 12-16th is National Small Business Week

May 12-16th is National Small Business Week.  Does your business have an emergency plan?  We have 5 simple steps that will walk your business through an emergency plan.  The steps include:

  • Program Management
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Testing and Exercises
  • Program Improvement

For more tips and information visit:

Photo: May 12-16th is National Small Business Week.  Does your business have an emergency plan?
We have 5 simple steps that will walk your business through an emergency plan.  The steps include:
-Program management
-Testing and exercises
-Program improvement

For more tips and information visit:


In the wake of the April 28th/29th severe weather event in Alabama people who would like to support disaster response and community storm shelters in our state have an opportunity to give to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

The Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) is an unmet needs fund available to disaster survivors in Alabama. The fund also provides money for community storm shelters across our state.  The fund is administered by Serve Alabama. The fund fiscal agent is the United Ways of Alabama. A nine member Governor’s Fund committee reviews unmet need requests presented by Long Term Recovery Committees from across the state and votes on funding to help individuals and communities recover.


Please mail donations to:
Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund
PO Box 1523
Montgomery, AL 36102


United Way of Athens - Limestone County is currently taking volunteer registrations online and at their office.  Volunteers can register using the following website  by phone, 256-233-2323 or the Athens/Limestone United Way office, 419 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611.

HandsOn Birmingham is in need of skilled and lay volunteers to help communities of Greater Birmingham recently impacted by the April 29, 2014 storms.  Skilled Volunteers are needed to help with debris removal and Lay volunteers are needed to work in distribution centers.

To Register as a Skilled volunteer click here

To Register as a Lay volunteer click here

For additional information, please contact HandsOn Birmingham at 251-5849.


For Information on Volunteer Opportunities or if you need recovery help from the storms in Alabama, please call 2-1-1 from inside Alabama, or dial 1-888-421-1266.

SEVERE WEATHER - How to stay informed.

There are many ways to stay informed about potential emergency events in your area.  For weather related emergencies, the National Weather Service NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts relay vital watch and warning information for your specific county or community.  Your area may have tornado sirens.  Please remember that tornado sirens are only designed to warn people outdoors, not indoors. Do not rely on tornado sirens for your tornado emergency plan for your home or business.

Stay tuned to local television and radio stations that provide severe weather coverage. Monitor reliable internet and social media sites for additional information.


National Weather Service Birmingham

National Weather Service Huntsville

National Weather Service Mobile

National Weather Service Tallahassee FL (Includes Coffee, Dale, Geneva, Houston and Henry Counties in Alabama)