Rep. Cole’s Column: Storm Season is Here, Time to Prepare

Oklahoma has unfortunately already endured a string of disastrous tornadoes this year. While our communities remain resilient in the recovery process, it is a reminder that we must be ready to face dangerous weather conditions that may come our way. As we enter storm season, please take the proper steps to plan and prepare.

First, awareness is essential, and by monitoring local weather conditions in your area and staying up to date on any severe storm warnings, you can know when a storm is approaching and when to take shelter. The best way to increase awareness is to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service by downloading the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app which can be found at In addition to providing timely alerts, the FEMA app also allows you to send notifications to loved ones and locate nearby storm shelters during emergencies. You can also contact your local county commissioner or mayor to find more details on public storm shelters in your area or visit

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, unique alerts are available through the Oklahoma Weather Alert Remote Notification (OK-WARN). These alerts provide warnings regarding severe weather and other emergencies in your area through email, cell phones or pagers. To activate this potentially life-saving service, visit

To further prepare, you can also create a disaster readiness plan for your household. The plan should include details on where to shelter, an evacuation route, how you will communicate with your household and how you will receive emergency alerts if a disaster were to strike. For more details on how to build a readiness plan, please visit Ready.go/plan. Households with seniors, kids or pets can also visit, or for additional resources to ensure that every age and member of the family is prepared for a storm.

Next, make sure you have access to a severe weather kit. All emergency kits should include the minimum of a flashlight, water, a first aid kit, a whistle and batteries. With these resources, your household will be better equipped to face any disasters that may come your way.

Financial preparedness is also essential as disasters can be costly. To prepare financially, you should consider creating an emergency savings account and begin saving money that can be used in case of crisis. It is also a good idea to gather and safeguard all financial and critical household documents, including tax statements and insurance policies. For more financial preparedness tips, visit

Once your household is secure, it is important to prepare your property. Clear any large or loose materials near your home and remove any dead trees, hanging branches or other loose objects near your yard. If disaster does strike and your property suffers damage, reporting this information can be crucial to the state’s recovery efforts as authorities work to assess the level of damage. In the event your property is harmed by severe weather, please report this to state authorities at

Lastly, if severe weather causes your home to lose power, practice caution when using backup power and heat sources. Portable generators and combustion or gas-burning appliances should be used as instructed and not placed inside your home. The incorrect use of these appliances could expose you and other members of your household to toxic carbon monoxide. Review information from the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) to ensure you are not breathing in harmful fumes at

Past disasters in our state serve as a heartbreaking reminder that preparedness is vital to the safety of you and your loved ones, and ultimately saves lives. Please develop a severe weather plan for you and your family and follow the necessary steps to ensure your safety in the coming months.

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