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Residents urged to prepare for severe weather

As Severe Weather Awareness Week convenes next week, the Fayette County Department of Fire and Emergency Services is reminding local residents how they can be prepared for weather-related emergencies.

The county maintains a system of 23 severe weather warning sirens located in some of the most vulnerable and densely populated areas. The sirens are sounded during tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings and also during a tornado watch.

The sirens will be tested Wednesday, Feb. 3, at approximately 9 a.m. in conjunction with the annual statewide tornado drill. Residents should not call 911 to ask questions about the sirens, officials have said. If severe weather threatens Feb. 3, the test will be postponed to Thursday, Feb. 4.

Also, voice warnings are issued in recreational areas for significant weather alerts such as those for frequent intense lighting, hail and heavy rain. During such alerts, outdoor activities and sporting events should stop and the public should take cover in a shelter until the storm has passed, officials said.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is a good time for families — especially children — and also businesses to prepare for severe weather, officials said.

Following are some helpful severe weather preparedness tips:

Before the Storm

• Develop a plan for you and your family for home, work, school, and when outdoors.

• Know your county and the surrounding counties in order to follow the movement of the storms.

• Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and battery backup to receive warnings. Listen for sounding of the severe weather warning sirens.

• Listen to local radio and television for information.

• If planning outdoor activities, monitor latest forecasts and take necessary actions if threatening weather is possible.

If a warning is issued or threatening weather approaches:

• In a home or building move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.

• If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room on the lowest floor. Remember to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible.

• Stay away from windows.

• Get out of automobiles.

• Do NOT try to outrun a tornado in an automobile.

• Mobile homes, even tied down, offer little protection and should be abandoned.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of approaching storms and take the necessary precautions.

Fayette County is also designated a “Storm Ready” community by the National Weather Service, which insures that emergency and public safety agencies are prepared to respond to weather-related emergencies in the county.

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