The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Birmingham Regional Center hosted nationally-renowned Chief Meteorologist James Spann from ABC 33/40 on August 11. Spann was sure to cover many important topics, often explaining that he is very serious about weather safety. He covered the importance of safety during many types of weather events including our two tornado seasons (spring and fall), thunderstorms, straight-line winds and winter weather hazards.
Spann explained the importance of weather radios and weather alert apps. He said the public should not rely on outdoor weather sirens – a World War I technology meant to reach only a limited distance outside. He also said that, while social media has many great uses, it should not be used as an emergency alert source. An app Spann mentioned in particular was Weather Radio, an app with which he is not affiliated but he recommends as a less expensive alternative to weather radios.
Door prizes were given away, including emergency kits packed by Alabama Industries for the Blind – a division of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind – funded by an Alabama Department of Public Health grant. Spann recommends three things to definitely have in your emergency kit: a helmet, an air horn and hard-soled shoes. Additional recommendations he listed included flashlights, first aid kits, etc.
Spann went in-depth to explain something that he says the public is not well educated on – polygons. “We do not warn by counties anymore; we warn by geometric shapes called polygons. We changed this eight years ago and we learned we need to do a better job of explaining it.” He explained that counties are big and tornados are small, so there is no reason to warn an entire county and give the illusion of false alarms. “[In Jefferson County] if there is a tornado in Warrior, and you live in Hoover, you don’t need to do anything.” Polygons give the ability of specificity while still allowing a safe margin of error, so there should never be a tornado outside of a polygon warning.
He explained the blizzard of January 2014, the things that meteorologists and weather persons did correctly and the things that they did wrong. He explained that, in his 26 years, they had had no experience with such a situation, but now they have experience and knowledge for the future. It served as a reminder that Alabamians deal with many types of weather events and it is important that the public, including our local deaf, blind and special needs residents, are knowledgeable about how to get timely and important weather information and how to prepare themselves for all the types of weather events that come about in our very variable state.
This presentation was a part of a series of emergency preparedness workshops offered by the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) being provided to the deaf and blind communities.
Special cookies depicting the “I love you” sign and Braille cells were made by Savage’s Bakery, Homewood, for Spann in appreciation for his visit.
To receive updates on future presentations, workshops and special events offered by the AIDB Birmingham Regional Center, which serves Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker Counties, please contact Director Jessica Edmiston at 205.328.3989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep an eye out for more pictures to be posted to our AIDB Facebook page!