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Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week: Staying Connected

Tuesday is the third day of South Carolina’s Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week. Stay up to date on weather conditions by following the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the National Weather Service, SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio.

When severe weather approaches, the National Weather Service offices in South Carolina may issue outlooks, advisories, watches or warnings to inform the public about what threats they may face. It’s critical to be able to receive these messages in time, and from trustworthy sources.

“The first and most important thing you can do is have a weather app on your phone,” said Frank Strait, Severe Weather Liaison at the South Carolina State Climatology Office.

“Make sure you are able to set those notifications up so your cellphone is able to alert you in the case of severe weather.”

Strait recommends setting alerts up for several locations, such as you live, where you work and where your friends and family live. You may also want to do this if you have elderly relatives who may not be able to receive notifications themselves.

There are many commercially available weather apps to choose from, Strait said, and many phones come with an app ready to use. Many state and municipal governments also employ alert systems, including South Carolina. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division uses Code Red Alerts to notify residents when a major disaster is imminent or has occurred. FEMA has also developed an app which can give you real-time weather alerts and emergency information based on your location.

If you choose to get weather information on social media, know your source, Strait said. An anonymous or unverified account on Twitter or Facebook could be anyone and may be spreading misinformation.

“I encourage people to refer to official news sources, like their local news station,” Strait said. Find a meteorologist or news station you trust and tune in for weather forecasts.

Finally, the National Weather Service is the authority on severe weather and the official government outlet for weather information. There are three NWS offices in South Carolina: Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg. Wilmington, North Carolina’s office also covers a significant portion of the Pee Dee region. These offices all have official Twitter and Facebook pages where you can get important information straight from the source.

In the case of an emergency, you should also make a plan for staying in contact with loved ones. Having a family disaster plan set up before disaster strikes can help reduce panic or confusion in an emergency. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division suggests picking a friend or family member out-of-state to be the designated family contact. After a disaster, separated family members can call this person to let them know their status and location. Also, choose a family meeting point outside of your immediate neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

Tomorrow, we will cover tornado safety to correspond with South Carolina’s annual tornado drill. The drill will occur on March 8 at 9 a.m.