Use this easy checklist to prepare for severe weather

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Spring is prime tornado season in Central Alabama, because temperatures can fluctuate so wildly. The month might begin at an average temperature of 45 degrees and end at 77, a temperature range that can bring bright and clear days but also lend itself to dramatic weather changes.

feb2019 weather prep streamSome of the worst tornado outbreaks in Alabama’s history have come during April, including April 3-4, 1974, and April 27, 2011, when 134 patients came through the UAB emergency room after harsh tornadoes struck Central Alabama, hailing from Anniston to Tuscaloosa. But tornadoes can — and have — happened any time during the year and even the occasional late snow falls.

Severe weather preparedness is key when living and working in a location such as Birmingham, and UAB has several resources that, when coupled with personal initiatives, can help keep employees safe during bad weather.

  1. Know your group assignment for bad-weather closings.

    Each UAB employee and is assigned to a group — Green, Yellow or Red — and is responsible for knowing his or her group assignment, which ensures they are more clearly and quickly informed of whether or not they need to report for class or work during a weather event.

    Green group entities/functions always close when operations are canceled for weather, Yellows may or may not close depending on the nature of the weather event and decisions by management and supervisors. Red group members never close and must continue to operate regardless of the weather.

    Check your assignment using the Weather Group tile in the UAB app or use the “Check My Group” feature at edu/emergency/weather.

  2. Register for UAB’s emergency notification system, B-ALERT, at

    Sign up for B-ALERT.
    UAB’s Emergency Management Team uses its emergency notification system to communicate through voice calls, SMS text messages and emails to the entire campus. You should routinely check your B-alert settings to make sure the contact information is correct.

    Register for B-ALERT at edu/balert.

  3. Know the severe weather gathering points and emergency action plan for your building.
    Most buildings across campus have at least one designated gathering area for severe weather Employees should familiarize themselves with the ones closest to their workspace and memorize several routes there.

    Each building administrator should also have on hand a Building Emergency Action Plan, which is shared with new employees and can be explained upon request. UAB also has its own basic emergency response plan for tornadoes.

    UAB Hospital, UAB Hospital-Highlands and all inpatient and ambulatory health care clinics follow shelter-in-place guidance provided by UAB Medicine Emergency Management. Outpatient clinics also have specific shelter-in-place procedures.

    “This is an excellent opportunity for schools, civic organizations and businesses to practice what they would do in the event of a tornado warning,” said Randy Pewitt, executive director of Emergency Management at UAB, a National Weather Service-recognized StormReady university.

    “If a warning is issued, know where you should go. Go to the lowest floor and put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Put on a bicycle or football helmet to help protect against blunt force trauma to the head.”

  4. Keep gear in your office in case of emergency.
    The Department of Homeland Security recommends creating emergency kits out of inexpensive and easy-to-find items that, in a true emergency, could save a life.

    Community-based traffic and navigation app Waze can also help drivers navigate around road blockages, stopped traffic or other roadway issues that can pop up during severe weather.

    Each office should be stocked with a gallon of water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a flashlight and other items from the gov Build A Kit checklist. It is best to stock enough to last 72 hours.

    “This is the perfect time to make sure you have all of the items on your severe weather checklist on hand and in working order,” Pewitt said. “Preparation now will make a tremendous difference later. It’s not a matter of whether or not we will have severe weather. It’s going to happen. Let’s be as prepared as we can be.”

  5. Know several different routes to get back home.
    Whether you commute from Five Points South or Tuscaloosa, take time during daily commutes to explore alternate routes to help avoid traffic jams due to extreme weather or car accidents.

    Community-based traffic and navigation app Waze can also help drivers navigate around road blockages, stopped traffic or other roadway issues that can pop up during severe weather.

  6. Download a good weather app.
    With the myriad weather apps available on the App Store and Google Play, it’s important to know which will be the most reliable in tense severe-weather situations.

    Most buildings across campus have at least one designated gathering area for severe weather situations. Familiarize yourself with the ones closest to your workspace and memorize several routes there.

    According to com, there are several good options ranging from the free AccuWeather app, available for iPhone and Android, which it notes is both simplistic and comprehensive, to the $10 Dark Sky app, also available for iPhone and Android, which offers minute-by-minute forecasts up to an hour in advance and will send notifications before it begins raining or snowing. Add a sentence to tell readers that they should make sure their push notifications for each app is turned on. We also recommend that each person have more than one app on their phone.