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Time to prepare, plan ahead of expected severe weather

OKLAHOMA CITY - As severe weather is expected to bear down on large swaths of the state in the coming days, officials say now is the time to make a storm preparedness list and shelter plan in case you and your family are caught in the middle of it.

"First thing we want people to do is be prepared for the event," said EMSA Director John Graham. "Doesn't have to be real advanced, but the more stuff they have in (a severe weather kit), in the event of an emergency, or if there's a delay, it can only help."

From things like a first aid kit to food, water and other items you -- and even your pets -- might need if you need to seek shelter because of the storms. This could include batteries for weather radios, flashlights and ensure your cell phones are charged or have backup battery power.

As important as having a severe weather kit for you and your family, so is having an emergency plan in place. Where will you seek shelter in your home if a tornado warning is issued?

"Somewhere that's away from windows, towards center of house, the more walls around you the better," said Graham. "You don't want to wait until there’s a tornado warning -- or tornado on the ground. Be prepared inside your home. When a tornado is on the ground, it's not the time to go and seek shelter. At that point, you’re a little bit late because you don't want to be caught outside."

If you have a storm shelter, do some spring cleaning to get it ready should you need to use it.

If you don't have a storm shelter, figure out who might you know, nearby, that does. It's possible several people in the neighborhood have basements or storm shelters that you and your family can take shelter in, if needed. Ask nearby family, friends or neighbors if you and your family could hunker down with them until the storm passes. Once you can answer those questions, talk about the plan with your family, and practice it.

"We have a lot of F4 and F5 tornadoes in Oklahoma. Oklahomans know that," said News 4 Chief Meteorologist Mike Morgan. "Those are the high-end winds that create a lot of destruction. Next door neighbor may have a great place in case there's an F4 or F5 situation. But you don't want to wait util the last minute."