This time of year is the perfect occasion to Be a Force of Nature! The Oak Ridge Fire Department (ORFD) is proud to promote Severe Weather Preparedness Week February 15-21, 2015. To help spread the word and make the employees and members of the community better prepared, ORFD is reaching out to the community to encourage home and business owners to commit to being a leader for weather-readiness. Know the risks, take action and be an example by signing up on the CodeRED Sever Weather Alert System. Individuals can go to http://oakridgetn.gov/department/firedept/safety/CodeRED and click on Sign-Up For CodeRED to register your personal cell phone number, home phone number and\or business address. For example, when a tornado warning is issued for your area by the National Weather Service, you will receive notice on your cell phone to take protective actions. This service is available 24-hours a day, 365-days a year for the protection of our citizens and visitors lives. 

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort designed to increase awareness of the severe weather that affects everyone as well as encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to know the risks, take action and be an example.

Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and other types of severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2011, there were more than 1,000 weather-related fatalities and more than 8,000 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries and affects every individual. Because of this, we at ORFD are committed to ensuring the safety of Oak Ridge to the best of our ability and are calling on you to Be a Force of Nature. Knowing your risks, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared and assist in saving lives. 

Recent studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe. This is an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others. Social media provides the perfect platform to model preparedness actions for others. For this reason we are asking you to pledge and take the following steps:  

Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and sign-up for localized alerts from emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take Action:  Be Force of Nature by taking the pledge to prepare at: ready.gov/severe-weather.  When you pledge to prepare, you take the first step to making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather.  This includes developing a family communication plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.  Visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather for more on family preparedness for severe weather.

Be an Example: Once you have taken action and pledged, share your story with your family and friends. Create a YouTube video, post your story on Facebook, comment on a blog, or send a tweet. Post the Be a Force of Nature widget on your social media profiles. 

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson stated, “CodeRED technology is the latest in modern technology for emergency management. It provides an immediate opportunity in an emergency for citizens to be contacted during these events. I know all citizens and businesses will want to sign-up for this important emergency notification system.” 

Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley would like remind everyone that, “Tornadoes have killed and injured people all around our community in the last 10 years. ORFD is working very hard to keep people informed of the hazards and encourage folks to register their cell phone or home phone number to ensure they receive proper notice in the event of a severe weather event.” As a result, on March 28, 2015, the Oak Ridge High School Key Club, working with Kiwanis and the Oak Ridge Fire Department, will be set-up at local business to assist people in signing up for the CodeRED Emergency Alert System.

More information and ideas on how you can Be a Force of Nature can be found at:  http://oakridgetn.gov/department/firedept/safety/CodeRed or www.ready.gov/severeweather. Information on the different types of severe weather such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding is available at www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severeweather or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov.