While September has become a month of remembrance, emergency personnel want people to remember to prepare themselves for any potential disaster.
It is National Preparedness Month in Kentucky.
“It’s a month that we want people to take charge of their preparedness,” Winchester’s Emergency Management Director Gary Epperson said. “They need to know what to do, where to go, the local hazards and have a plan, be able to implement the plan and have a disaster kit.”
While the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are more than a decade in the past, Epperson is quick to note the majority of disasters are weather-related. And eastern Kentucky was slammed by tornadoes as recently as last spring.
“Weather is one of the biggest things we face here,” Epperson said. “In the winter, there’s snowfall we can’t manage. We have the potential of ice storms. In the spring time, we have the potential of severe weather like tornadoes and flooding.
“And earthquakes are always a possibility in this part of the country.”
Outside naturally occurring disasters, the Blue Grass Army Depot and the transportation of hazardous materials (on rail, via Interstate 64 and Highway 627) pose potential man-made disasters as well.
Epperson said the easiest ways to prepare for potential disasters is to have an all-weather (or all-hazards) radio and a disaster supply kit.
“The easy thing is to have an all-weather (radio); if anything of significance happens it will be broadcast on an all-weather radio,” he said. “And have a disaster supply kit. If you have to evacuate your house, you have your medications, you have some food, water and some extra clothes and essential items you’re going to need.”
The best way to fill out a disaster supply kit is to think of like packing for a camping trip, Epperson said. Whatever you would need to survive for a few days should go in the kit.
It is recommended all vehicles have jumper cables and at least a half-tank of gas. Keeping a blanket and bag of kitty litter in the truck during the cold months is also suggested.
While you can leave a potentially deadly or dangerous area, your house is a little less mobile. A plan for dealing with your home is important too, Epperson said.
“You should know how to shut the utilities off in your house,” he said. “You should know how to shut your power down. You should be able to cut your water and your gas off. That way if you have utilities in the house spewing, at least you know where the main cutoffs are.”
The biggest part of preparing for a disaster is to start.
“You think it won’t happen to you,” Epperson said. “You feel invincible, but it can happen to anyone at anytime.”
For more tips on how to prepare and suggestions for the contents of a disaster supply kit, see ready.gov, kyem.ky.gov and clarkema.com.
Contact Casey Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org.