State hosts sales tax holiday ahead of tornado season

Governor Kay Ivey has declared this week as the state of Alabama's Severe Weather Awareness Week that will end in the 10th annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. This holiday focuses primarily on preparing residents in our area for the upcoming tornado season.

Since 2012, the state of Alabama has held a tax-free holiday at the end of February to allow residents to purchase weather preparedness items at a lower cost. Alabama will hold its 10th annual Sales Tax Holiday, beginning Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and ending Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, at midnight, allowing shoppers to purchase certain severe weather preparedness items free of state sales tax. Local sales tax may apply.

The best response to a disaster is a good plan. DeKalb County Emergency Management Director Anthony Clifton says to be prepared for at least three days. “Watching people in Texas respond to the snow teaches us to be better prepared for a week instead of the suggested three days. People need one gallon of water per person per day."

He said there are many essential things for people to consider purchasing in prolonged power outages. "The biggest thing to consider is a weather radio if you don't already have one," Clifton said. "If you're not aware of what's going on outside, then all the preparedness in the world won't do you any good. We have to be able to get in touch with you someway, somehow," he said.

However we categorize them, pets, wildlife, livestock and other animals are impacted by severe weather just like we are. "Another huge thing many people forget is their pets; people need to not only have enough food and water for themselves but enough for their pets too," said Clifton.

"Generators are also great, but with generators comes some danger; you need to know how to use it, practice with it, make sure it cranks and make sure you have the proper extension cords for it as well," says Clifton.

"Another thing we would like people to do is to have a "Go Bag," said Clifton. A "Go Bag" is an emergency-preparedness bag that you pack in advance but hope you never need. These bags are useful in situations that require a hasty evacuation. "In your go bag, we suggest keeping copies of all your important documents, things like your driver's license, birth certificates and items you would need if your house got blown completely away and there is nothing left."

"You have to have things like ID and proof of address to apply for assistance after a disaster," says Clifton. "We recommend keeping those important documents inside a zip lock bag to protect against the elements and keep that in a backpack sitting nearby a door."

The Alabama Department of Revenue has released the following list of approved items that can be purchased tax-free this weekend:

• AAA-cell batteries AA-cell batteries C-cell batteries D-cell batteries 6-volt batteries 9-volt batteries

• Cellular phone battery

• Cellular phone charger

• Portable self-powered or battery-powered radio, two-way radio, weather band radio or NOAA weather radio

• Portable self-powered light source, including battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, or emergency glow sticks

• Tarpaulin

• Plastic sheeting

• Plastic drop cloths

• Other flexible, waterproof sheeting

• Ground anchor system, such as bungee cords or rope, or tiedown kit

• Duct tape

• Plywood, window film or other materials specifically designed to protect window coverings

• Non-electric food storage cooler or water storage container

• Non-electric can opener

• Artificial ice

• Blue ice

• Ice packs

• Reusable ice

• Self-contained first aid kit

• Fire extinguisher

• Smoke detector

• Carbon monoxide detector

• Gas or Diesel fuel tank or container

For a severe weather preparedness plan to be successful, weather.gov says the following points of reference are necessary:

• Knowledge of terminology (such as watches and warnings)

• Knowledge of safety rules when severe weather strikes

• Reliable method of receiving emergency information

• Designation of an appropriate shelter

• Drills to test the plan

On Oct. 1, 2007, the National Weather Service began issuing warnings in the shape of a polygon, intended to warn only the locations and people inside the polygon of impending severe weather. "We do encourage the use of a weather radio, combined with our DeKalb Alert System," said Clifton, "The difference between the DeKalb Alert System and a weather radio is that our system goes off when you're inside the polygon; it's a county-wide polygon so you will get the message."

If you have not registered for alerts, you may do so by visiting dekalbcountyal.us/ema. There is a banner at the bottom of the page that will allow you to register for alerts through the DeKalb system.

For additional information, visit dekalbcountyal.us/ema or follow them on Facebook @DeKalbCoEMA

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