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Experts remind people to have a plan for the threat of severe weather

Wisconsin Emergency Management and the American Red Cross say listening for updates is important at the beginning and end of the storm.
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Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - During an event of severe weather, experts remind people to have a plan in place for before, during and after the threat.

“Be prepared,” said Katie Rousonelos, the Public Information Officer for Wisconsin Emergency Management. “Make a plan, so that when those storms come in, you’ll be ready.”

One of the first steps is to have a way to receive updates. Rousonelos says to make sure you have devices charged to get updates but to also have a radio with batteries, in case of a power outage. She says you should have at least two ways to receive weather updates. However, make sure those devices are unplugged once the storm starts.

“Make sure you don’t have computers on or phones plugged in the wall because lightning can travel through electrical lines and they can travel through phone lines if you have a landline.”

As a reminder, when the storm comes through, it’s recommended to stay away from windows and get to a safe shelter.

“Strong winds can break those windows open so you want to make sure you’re in a safe, sturdy shelter when those severe weather storms come in,” said Rousonelos.

Once the storm ends, don’t be too quick to evacuate your shelter, says Rousonelos.

“After a storm passes through, you’ll want to wait 30 minutes until after that last clap of thunder comes through and wait for all the all-clear from your local weather authority.”

In the event of fallen power lines, avoid them and do not try to pick them up by yourself. Instead, call the local utility provider to come and clean them up properly.

In emergency situations, the American Red Cross is on standby to provide any assistance where needed. You can call the Red Cross yourself, but they have crews all around the area ready to help.

“In cases where storms are coming through, our emergency managers are very, very good and they’re aware of where those storms are at,” said Robert Dorgan, the Disaster Program Manager with the American Red Cross Wisconsin Region. “They’re working with fire departments, they’re working with Red Cross and other agencies to help put together teams so they’re usually pretty good about knowing where the damage is and the level of damage.”

The Red Cross provides a number of services, including food, blankets, cots, housing and clean-up kits. If someone wants to help the Red Cross in the event of an emergency, Dorgan says there are two main ways to lend a hand.

“This might sound strange, but the best types of donations are always financial because every storm is different so we can adjust on a need-to-need basis,” said Dorgan. “You also can donate your time and you can help out yourself in an incident as well.”

To stay up to date on all the weather in northcentral Wisconsin, download the First Alert Weather App to your favorite device. You can do that here.

Call 1-800-REDCROSS if weather causes a disaster near you

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