(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buchanan County Emergency Management officials are urging residents to stay safe and create an emergency plan in the case of severe weather.
“We want to keep everybody safe because we do not want to have anybody injured or killed in the storm," Bill Brinton, Buchanan County emergency management director, said.
The first step in being prepared is monitoring the weather by watching local media, downloading a weather app on your phone or listening to the weather radio.
The next step is making sure you have a safety plan in place. This includes deciding where to take shelter in the case of a tornado. The best places to take shelter is a basement or windowless room.
“If you don’t have a basement, go into a closet and cover up with a mattress or a blanket or something," Brinton said. "Go into a bathroom and lay in the bathtub because a bathtub offers a lot of support.”
Also, be sure to have an emergency kit on hand. Brinton says families should have enough water, non-perishable foods, batteries and flashlights to last at least 96 hours.
Other items may need to be included in the emergency kit like money, medicines and diapers, but those items depend on an individual family's needs.
“You need to make sure that you keep your family safe. The attitude a parent should have is to have confidence in what’s going on," Brinton said.
In the case of flooding, do not drive on roadways that are covered in water. Brinton says these types of safety concerns could put more than just yourself at risk.
“You’re putting your first responders at risk also. People just need to be aware that this is a very tremendous time," Brinton said.
Also, be sure to bring all household pets indoors or into a sheltered area. The St. Joseph Animal Shelter says they often see an increase in lost or abandoned animals after severe weather situations.
"It's really important, they can be impacted by the weather just as we can," Jennifer Lockwood, humane educator at the animal shelter, said. "So, if it hails or something like that it can hurt them. They can get scared outside, they can run away."
Lockwood says it's important to make sure your pets have a tag or some sort of identification. This makes it easier to identify them and reunite them with their families.