OZAUKEE CO. (WITI) -- The two-day severe weather outbreak has claimed the lives of 35 people -- and 70 million are again being warned of a slight to moderate risk of severe weather on Tuesday, April 29th. Mississippi and Alabama -- where tornadoes Monday caused widespread destruction and several deaths again in the bullseye for the worst of the storms Tuesday. The pictures from those hit by these violent storms are heartbreaking, and when you see them, you might think "I'm glad that's not me." But FEMA officials say you should be thinking "What if that were me?"
What if you looked out your window right now and saw a tornado headed straight for your home? Would you know what to do? Would you know how to deal with the devastation left behind?
You are not alone.
A national study by FEMA says 57% of Americans do not have a "household emergency plan."
That doesn't surprise Scott Ziegler -- the Ozaukee County Emergency Management Director.
"It's really vital that people know what to do, what actions to take and be prepared that when they come out of their shelter area in the basement, you know, most or all of their house may not be there," Ziegler said.
In Wisconsin, there is the potential for flooding, severe thunderstorms, severe winter storms, and tornadoes that can sneak up on you.
Ziegler says waiting for a tornado watch or warning to make a plan of action is not a good idea.
"When the warning comes out it's actually too late to be scrambling around to grab medication, telephones. You do need to prepare ahead of time because when the warning comes you have sometimes just a few seconds to get to shelter or take action," Ziegler said.
So what do you include in your "household emergency plan?"
Ziegler says for a house fire: Know where your meeting place is so that you can easily account for all family members.
For flooding: Know where to go to access higher ground and shelter.
"Do you have vital documents secured that they're protected or available quickly so that you can take them with you?" Ziegler said.
Don't forget medication and important phone numbers.
Ziegler also encourages equipping your home with a weather radio, and make sure you have a severe weather app available on your smartphone.
Ziegler says it's easy to get complacent and ignore the impact of a disaster -- or to think "This won't happen to me."
"The more you prepare, the more you have in place, the quicker you can start on that path of recovery," Ziegler said.
Ozaukee County has a planned "Community Preparedness Day" scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to noon.
Those who show up to the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA on Northwoods Road in Port Washington will be able to build an emergency kit with donated supplies, develop a "household emergency plan" and learn about local, regional and state resources available should a disaster strike.
The event is free and open to the public.
Learn more about developing a "household emergency plan" and an emergency kit, by visiting Ready.WI.gov -- CLICK HERE!
CLICK HERE to learn about FEMA's "America's PrepareAthon" -- a nationwide campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and resilience. The "National Day of Action" is Wednesday, April 30th.