(WQOW)- The best time to prepare for a disaster is before one strikes. Tuesday is the first day of preparedness month in Wisconsin, which means now is a great time to plan ahead for all kinds of emergencies.
Emergency management officials said it's important to have supplies on hand that can be easily accessed and used in a wide variety of scenarios from severe weather to winter storms and extreme cold. This includes enough non-perishable food and water to last for three days, as well as items like first aid supplies, medications, a change of clothes and shoes, flashlights, extra batteries and any other supplies you would need over a three day period.
"Always have a preparedness mindset," Eau Claire County Emergency Management Program Assistant Sam Simmons said. "Whenever you're out, if you see something and think, 'oh, that would be a good thing to put in my preparedness kit', grab it."
He said in addition to keeping you safe, planning ahead can help lessen the burden on stores when unplanned emergencies or power outages happen.
"We never recommend hoarding, like you just saw with COVID, or before every storm you always see the stores packed with people," Simmons said. "You don't need to stockpile your whole basement with emergency preparedness stuff. Just have a little basic kit."
Officials said this is also a good time to make sure you have multiple ways to get emergency and severe weather alerts set up. The best way to receive severe weather alerts, especially overnight, is a NOAA weather radio. Storm sirens are only designed to be heard outdoors, and you should never rely on them as your only way to receive warnings.
You can also download our Stormtracker 18 Weather App, which will also alert you of warnings, but only if you have notifications turned on and have the volume turned up. You can also sign up to receive phone alerts in Eau Claire County here.
Emergency management officials said it's also important to have a plan in place in case you need to leave your home or workplace in the event of an emergency, including having safe meeting places and ways to stay in contact with family set up ahead of time.