From 12:01 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26th, to midnight Sunday, Feb. 28th, Alabama will mark its fifth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday weekend. Certain severe weather preparedness items are exempt from the state’s four percent sales tax, and in some cities and counties, local taxes are waived as well. Check to see if your city and county is participating.
It’s a great opportunity to save money on the items you need to weather a storm and stay safe in the days following a natural disaster. In addition, many of the tax-exempt items are supplies that will come in handy year-round.
We have compiled the “Top 5” items you should consider purchasing during the tax-free weekend. You can find the complete list of items covered under the sales tax holiday here.
Having no light during a power outage can be frustrating and, under certain conditions, dangerous. How many times have you searched your drawers for a flashlight, only to find one that either didn’t work or barely lit up a room? Use this weekend as a chance to stock up on reliable, high-power flashlights or even a lantern or headlamp.
#4 Battery Operated NOAA Weather Radio
Perhaps the most affordable investment in your family’s safety kit is a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, weather radio. Just a few dollars could buy a few extra minutes for a family to get out of harm’s way. NOAA Weather Radios send out a special alarm tone to signal a watch or warning, alerting listeners to take appropriate safety measures. The signal transmits anytime day or night, even if a family is not listening to the broadcast. Early warning is critical because weather can quickly turn deadly.
#3 Extra batteries
In the event of an emergency, the items mentioned above would be of no use if you didn’t have extra (working) batteries. Make sure you have the appropriate batteries for each device you’d need in an emergency and put those in a specific place, so they’ll be ready to use when the time comes. It also wouldn’t hurt to stock up for your day-to-day use while they’re tax free!
#2 Cell phone chargers, specifically the portable, stand-alone kind
There’s probably nothing we rely on more during severe weather than our cell phones. From communicating with family members and loved ones to being able to access weather-related information, many of us would feel lost without a working cell phone. Cell towers are often still working during a disaster, but you’ll need to be able to charge it if the power is out for an extended period of time. Portable chargers can offer you an extra few hours of battery life. It might also be a good idea to have a car-charger, in case that’s the only place you can charge your phone.
#1 Portable Generator
This item has the potential for the biggest savings, thanks to its higher price tag. It can be invaluable when dealing with extended power outages,
allowing you to keep warm during cold weather months, preserve frozen or refrigerated food supplies and provide power to other necessary electrical items. However, this item comes with an important warning. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. The primary hazard to avoid when using a generator is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust. NEVER use a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide. When you use a portable generator, remember that you cannot smell or see carbon monoxide. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away! The carbon monoxide from generators can kill quickly. Be sure to ready and follow the safety instructions.