Governor Kay Ivey recently declared this week as the state of Alabama’s Severe Weather Awareness Week that will end in the eighth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.
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.
This weekend, Feb. 22, 23 and 24, the annual tax-free holiday will begin on Friday at 12:01 a.m. and end on Sunday at midnight.
DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Director Anthony Clifton said this holiday focuses primarily on preparing residents in our area for the upcoming tornado season.
He said there are many important things for people to consider purchasing in the event of prolonged power outages.
“The biggest thing to consider is a weather radio if you don’t already have one,” Clifton said. “Number two, good old fashioned flashlights and batteries. A lot of people depend on the flashlight on their cell phone, but when that phone goes dead, you’re out of power, and the most important thing is to have a plan of some kind and be prepared for power outages.”
Clifton said as a society, we rely too heavily on our cell phones for communication, information via the internet and a light source, and having a plan of actions and items to fall back on is pertinent.
Important things to consider during an outage include an alternate way of charging cell phones, a battery operated radio to receive updates and alerts, alternate ways to communicate with friends and family members, and having food that is edible without the use of power, he said.
The Alabama Department of Revenue has released the following list of approved items that can be bought tax-free this weekend:
• AAA-cell batteries, AA-cell batteries, C-cell batteries, D-cell batteries, 6-volt batteries and 9-volt batteries
• Cellular phone battery
• Cellular phone charger
• Portable self-powered or battery-powered radio, two-way radio, weatherband radio or NOAA weather radio
• Portable self-powered light source, including battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, or emergency glow sticks
• Plastic sheeting
• Plastic drop cloths
• Other flexible, waterproof sheeting
• Ground anchor systems, such as bungee cords or rope, or tie-down 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
This year, not only will the administration hold this holiday, but they have also designated every day of this week to a specific preparedness.
According to the National Weather Service website, weather.gov, this week’s goal is to prepare residents for the “worst” outcomes of the spring storms.
“The purpose of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to provide people with the knowledge necessary to protect their lives when severe weather threatens,” the website states. “Whether in the form of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, severe weather can develop very quickly. Once a tornado approaches or flooding develops it is too late to start working on a preparedness plan. When severe weather develops and warnings are issued you must take immediate action to protect yourself and others.”
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
“Hopefully this will remind people to take advantage of it because it is that time that we’re coming up on severe weather season,” Clifton said.