It's not even spring and already this has been a very active year for severe weather in the United States. So far 37 lives have been taken so throw the "April, May, early June" mindset of "tornado season" out the door.
Many concerned about getting the public better prepared for storms gathered earlier this week in Oklahoma City at the first Annual Tornado Preparedness Summit. I was honored to be asked to speak at this gathering of nearly 800 from 26 states.
Some of the highlights for me was the presentation called, "Warning before the warning" about better understanding how to stay informed well before the National Weather Service issues the warnings. Meteorologist Greg Carbin did an informative and entertaining session.
He is a rare breed of scientist that knows how to hold an audience.
The Bon Jovi of weathermen, Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, spoke on how he is dispatched to natural disasters whereever they occur.
He told a story about a person who told him "it came without warning." But in reality there were warnings well in advance of a tornado, only this man wasn't paying attention. He stated the public has the responsibility to stay informed, because most storms do have warning well in advance of the disaster.
There were talks on how to better repair and rebuild after a disaster. Insurance Commissioner John Doak spearheaded the conference and stated the attendance well exceeded what what they expected.
Crystal Washington, a communication specialist from Houston, told those in the audience how to use and better understand the social media. She highly recommended businesses and agents stay in contact with customers and clients using Facebook and Twitter.
A few times I heard the topic of helmets being discussed, something we have preached here in Green Country for a long time. Bicycle, football, or motorcycle helmets offer an additional way to better protect yourself and your family when you are taking shelter during a tornado warning.
You will all look a little silly sitting in the closet while wearing helmets, but it could just save your life!
Conferences like these are great opportunities for the National Weather Service, Emergency Responders, Insurance Agents, and media to search for better ways to keep the public safe before and during severe storms.
Remember though, you have the responsibility to use that information to take cover. Have a plan, practice this plan of action, and then don't wait when a tornado warning is issued.
Set a great example for your children. Don't go outside to see if you and spot the tornado, when a tornado warning is issued for your area, Immediately, go to your safe place.
For inspiration, I wore my helmet while I wrote this blog.