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franklin county times

Severe weather items go tax-free Feb. 25-27

Alabama’s annual severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 25 and ends at midnight Feb. 27. It’s meant as an opportunity to stock up on common supplies costing less than $60 to help in the event of a general emergency or natural disaster.

Some of the eligible items included are batteries, weather radios, flashlights, tarps, plywood, other items for protecting windows in storms, ice chests, coolers, ice packs, first-aid kids, fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Portable generators and cords costing $1,000 or less are also tax-free during the holiday.

The 4 percent state sales tax is waived statewide, and cities and counties can opt into the tax holiday for savings of up to 10 percent on covered items.

Franklin County waives sales tax during this period, as do Red Bay, Russellville, Phil Campbell and Vina. Participating local governments are listed on the Alabama Department of Revenue web page, https://revenue.alabama.gov/sales-use/sales-tax-holidays/alabama-severe-weather-preparedness-sales-tax-holiday/.

“This is the time of year people need to get ready for tornado season,” explained Franklin County EMA Director and Blue Springs Fire Chief Mary Glass. “It’s important to have NOAA weather radios and flashlights with fresh batteries, fuel for generators and some kind of food source, especially non-perishables, in case the power is out for a few days. Make sure to know where nearby storm shelters are located and have a plan for where to meet afterward if separated from your family during a storm.”

Russellville fire marshal Justin Green explained that, in the event of a disaster, emergency services may become overwhelmed.

“Other items that are good to have on hand include fire extinguishers,” he said. “If you’re going to use cooking equipment, operate it at least 10 feet away from any structures, making sure to be mindful of the potential for heating sources to cause carbon monoxide and other dangers.”

Green said if using a portable heater, make sure to use one with tip-protection so it will cut off automatically if it tips over, something he notes is important to help prevent fires. “Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are important. Another reason portable NOAA weather radios are so important is because cellular service could go down during a major emergency, and it’s important to have a way to get weather briefings and other crucial information.”

While Green said newer weather radios are simple to program, he added that if anyone needs help, they can contact the fire department for assistance. The Russellville Fire Department can be reached on Facebook or by calling 256-332-8760.