GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - September is National Preparedness Month and big crowds gathered at Walgreens on Pass Road in Gulfport Wednesday to learn how to best prepare for the possibility of severe weather.
"Seconds count when there's a tornado, so it's not about getting the information 20 minutes from now; it's about getting it instantaneously," said Ken Graham of the National Weather Service.
When the lights go out, weather radios can become the last line of communication for knowing how close severe weather is to you. Bruce Thomas with Midland Radio travels all over helping people program weather radios.
Thomas says weather radios are much more dependable than cell phones in emergency situations.
"Cell towers go down and the cell network gets clogged up as soon as there's an emergency you have no bandwidth left," said Thomas. "Having an alert weather radio gives you direct information from the National Weather Service on its own tower so it's not competing with any kind of cell phone signal."
Some types of weather radios can even power cell phones.
"Having an emergency crank radio gives you some options," said Thomas "It will recharge your cell phone, it has a solar panel, it has a flash light, it also has weather alert. If all your power and t.v. is out this could be your life line."
Graham gave tours of the National Weather Service's only mobile command center, as well as passed along advice for how to prepare for severe weather including a hurricane. Graham says an evacuation plan is a must.
"If you're told to evacuate, without a doubt you need to evacuate," said Graham. "If you're going to, where are you going to go? So many times we have everything together. We have our papers, we have the most important things in some sort of baggie or something to keep it from getting wet, but that is one big factor that everyone has to remember and that's where are you going to go."
As part of your preparedness plan, Graham also recommends having drills with your family of how to react when severe weather happens.