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DURHAM, N.C. – Severe weather can happen any time of the year.  In North Carolina, the first full week of March is designated as Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a time when residents are urged to develop or review and update their family emergency plan.

An emergency plan should include how everyone will contact each other, where to go, how you will get back together and what to do in different situations. A good place to begin is Ready.Gov, the disaster preparedness website managed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. North Carolina Emergency Management operates another site, ReadyNC.org, which is available as an app for your phone.

These sites offer an array of resources such as forms to print out and fill in with contact information on each family member, phone numbers of out-of-town contacts, work locations and other important phone numbers.

Your plan also should include emergency plans for places where your family spends time, such as work, school and daycare.

Identify an out-of-town friend or relative as a contact person for your family members. During an emergency each member of the family will call the contact and let them know they are safe. An out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

Decide where to go in an emergency. Plan and practice for different scenarios, such as where to go if there is a fire. What do you do if an emergency happens at night? Where in the home is the safest place if a tornado hits? If you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes, decide whether to evacuate or stay. Plan several evacuation routes, if possible, in case some roads become impassable. Identify where you will stay until it is safe to return home. If you have pets, find, in advance, places to board them or hotels and shelters that are pet friendly.

During a wide-scale disaster, such as tornado or hurricane, prepare for power outages. Keep fresh batteries for flashlights, keep cell phones fully charged. Consider purchasing a cell phone charger for your vehicle or a battery operated charger. Also, keep your gas tank full.

During hurricane season, keep a basic disaster supply kit of nonperishable food, water, first aid supplies, medicines, disposable diapers, formula and baby food (if necessary), plus extra food and water for pets. Don’t forget a manual can opener. Keep these items in a waterproof container and include enough food and water for up to three days.

A battery-operated weather radio or television will be invaluable in an emergency. The radios can be programmed to your local weather service office and will provide information on approaching severe weather. Heed their advice if you are directed to evacuate.

Keep enough cash on hand to get through several days. Banks will likely be closed and ATMs won’t function during a power outage.

Several government agencies work together to help you and your family stay safe. If you would like additional information, try these links:

For more information on North Carolina’s recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4285 and readync.org. Follow FEMA on Twitter at @femaregion4 and North Carolina Emergency Management @NCEmergency.