In the event of a disaster, the community will have to take care of itself for a few days prior to state and federal response arrives. Morgan County CERT is a group from the community that is trained to help during this gap. If this interestes you, check out the following: morgancountycert.com/
Below Are Some Tips on How to Prepare For Disasters
Disaster Preparedness #1- Meet your neighbors. Say what??? Yes, get to know the people around you. While waiting for power to be restored, roads to be cleared, or outside assistance to come in, the people around you can be a good resource and support structure. They might be a resource of sharing food, warm clothes, shelter, or any other needs you may have. Neighbors working together are more likely to get the job done, with better results, than waiting for outside help to come in and save the day. This one is FREE. P.S.- You do not need to wait for a disaster to perform this tip.
Disaster preparedness #2- Buy a weather radio. Walmart (or Target, or Amazon) has such a radio for less than $40. It is cheap insurance to inform you to get into a safe place. Programming instructions are below in the comments. If you need help, bring it by the fire station or WAFF will often locate themselves at a drug store to program for you. The SAME code for Morgan County is: 001103... The NWS in Huntsville is frequency 162.400. Another option is reliable weather app that will tell you when bad weather is coming. You may be able to get this app for free. The intent is to have more than one means of warning you of severe weather. You can get some more information from our website: http://www.pricevillefire.com/weather-radio.html
Disaster Preparedness #3- Water. It is recommended that you have one gallon, per person, per day. That is for drinking water… not showering, toilets, or other hygiene purposes. This does not include pets so you have to plan accordingly for their welfare. Saving water can be done for FREE!!! Save your used, plastic milk, 2-liter soda, or juice jugs and store tap water in them. Make sure you thoroughly clean and rinse the old jugs prior to storing water in them. If you store other drinks, make sure they do not have caffeine as they will dehydrate you. A neat trick is putting the water-filled jugs in your freezer to fill voids. After the water freezes, the freezer does not have to work as hard to keep the rest of the food cold. These frozen jugs can also help keep the food colder, for a longer period of time, when the power goes out. More on this later…
Disaster Preparedness #4- Food. The food should be in sealed containers that do not allow air and can be stored at room temperature. Pick food that is high in calories and filling (now is not the time for diet food). The food should not require water for preparation as your water supply is already limited. Unless you have a means of heating the food, plan to eat it cold. So, canned goods, dry foods, vacuum-sealed supplies, and peanut butter work well in this situation. Also consider the needs of children and pets. Food does not have to cost much money. Use coupons, buy generic, and buy in bulk. Not trying to promote any one of our local stores over another, but some have good deals on canned goods. Just a rough guess, $50 to $100 will likely have a family eating well for several days. Keep track of the food so it doesn’t expire. Maybe you can rotate this food out by consuming it as part of your normal meals or it can be donated to the food bank at church as it gets closer to expiring. Either way, the food will not be wasted. Do not forget the can opener, utensils, bowls, and cups. Store them with the canned goods.
Disaster Preparedness #5- Batteries/Power. We all understand we need batteries to power flashlights, weather radios, and AM/FM radios. We might already have what we need in our homes and can rob our kids’ toys and our TV remote controls. If you are looking to purchase some AA’s. You can find some good deals out there. Just make sure you buy the batteries you need to fit your lights. There are some fancy solar USB charging devices for our cell phones. These chargers also have flashlight capabilities built into them. Some car jump starters have power inverters built into them and can be used to charge phones with their 12Vdc ports or run small 120Vac items for a short period of time. You can use glow sticks for lighting… buy them online or in bulk in stores after certain holidays. You can get creative with all of the gadgets out there these days. Of course, the old-fashioned lanterns still work well when used safely. Finally, there are generators. A small generator can be helpful by powering a heater in the winter or running a refrigerator in the summer. In the winter, you can typically open the doors of the freezer and it is colder outside than it is within the fridge. With an electric heater, you can put the heater in a room (on a non-flammable surface of course) and isolate that one room from the rest of the house. At least you will be somewhat warm. In the summer, it will be like camping, just with a generator powering the fridge full of food. Sadly, I have to mention this, but put a chain around your generator and lock it to something immobile to prevent someone from running off with it. Do not forget to have the fuel and extension cords you need standing by. An important note to share about generators- some people might want to tie the generator into their home’s wiring. With this, it is possible to back feed power to the power lines… which, in turn, can kill line workers touching the power lines. We suggest if you plan on connecting a generator to your home’s power panel, that you contact a licensed electrician and seek their assistance. Also, do not run the generator indoors as the exhaust can kill you.
Disaster Preparedness #6- Medicine/First Aid. How many of you have some extra medicine set aside? You might keep extra prescription medications on hand in the event you do not get to the pharmacy in time. Have at least three days-worth of medicine to be able to survive after a storm. This can also refer to medicine used for headaches, fevers, sore throats, and such. For those of you with medication that requires refrigeration (insulin, antibiotics, and so forth) your best bet is a generator that powers your fridge. However, we already discussed keeping your fresh water frozen in the fridge. Maybe you can put those meds in a cooler to keep them cool if you do not have a generator. Having a small first aid kit on hand might be helpful as well in the event you get hurt. My guess is you already have something similar in your house… therefore that costs $0 for this preparation. Otherwise, a commercially made kit can be $20 at a store.
Disaster Preparedness #7- Shelter. This has been the hardest one to write. So, let’s talk about the places to NOT seek shelter. A trailer is NOT a safe place to seek shelter during a tornado. One of those “big box” stores (like Walmart, Target, or a grocery store) are NOT safe places to hide during a storm. None of these places are designed to protect you from high winds and debris. There are plenty of stories of destroyed trailers and stores ruined during tornadoes. Here are some options for safe places to seek shelter. There are specifically made shelters that go in the ground, a special room in your house, or the root cellar. Another location can be on the bottom floor, in the center of the house, in a room without windows. These are all suitable locations. Another location can be public storm shelters. The Priceville High School is a community storm shelter. Typically, the Priceville Police Department or the City will open it for the public. The Priceville storm shelter DOES NOT allow pets. We mentioned earlier in this series to meet your neighbors. Since you have made the connection, now is the time to see if you can join a neighbor in their storm shelter or the lowest room in their home. A personal storm shelter is around $5,000 for a 10-person shelter. Maybe you and the neighbors can share the costs of building one. If you live in a trailer park, see if you can convince the property owner to install one for the whole park, and take monthly payments from your rent. A lot of methods have been researched for this specific topic but buying a commercially-made shelter is not cheap for someone on a tight budget. Ideally, you should seek a storm shelter when a tornado warning goes into effect. For some reason or another, people ignore these warnings until it is too late. We suggest you have a couple means of storm warning up and running prior the storm. A second warning device can be backup in the event the first one fails. However, it has been shown that many people do not believe just a tornado siren or a family member who calls and warns them of a funnel cloud. People typically feel the need to get verification from a news source, the radio, or social media. Then they go to their shelter. A recommendation, have your desired sources of information running, get informed more quickly, and seek shelter sooner. Finally, if you do get s storm shelter PLEASE SHARE THE LOCATION WITH MORGAN COUNTY 911.
Disaster Preparedness #8- After the Storm #1. In the event a tornado/wildfire directly hits your property, what do you do from here? First, let’s address your safety. After a tornado there will be trees and power lines down everywhere. Some power lines will likely be mixed within toppled trees. You cannot tell from just looking at a wire that it does not have power. It can still be touching the ground and have enough power in it to kill you. Also, power companies have features built into their systems that will automatically re-energize power lines after the power goes out. The traditional thought is a tree touched the power lines and grounded things out, thereby tripping the breaker somewhere. The traditional thought also assumes the tree’s contact with the power lines was short-term and therefore the power can be turned back on. At this point, if you are touching the power lines, you will die. If there are down power lines stay away from them and call 911. The fire department and power company may be tied up with similar problems, but we will get there as soon as possible.
Disaster Preparedness #9- After the Storm #2. How many of you have your personal information backed up and stored in a safe place? In the event of a scenario where your house is destroyed, do you have a copy of your driver license (or some form of legal identification), insurance papers, and any other documents you deem important? Maybe you can keep a copy in a safe place at your job in your desk or locker... or in your storm shelter... or at a trusted friend/family member's home. When you try to make a claim to FEMA or your insurance company, they will ask you for some form of identification. You will then be frustrated and try to point them toward the remains of your property and tell them it is somewhere over there. To you, this will add to the devastation. Think ahead and have some form of ID ready. I have done something similar with tracking my personal items. I have made a video of the items in my home showing my electronics, guns, jewelry, tools, and so on (serial numbers included). From there, I have stored the video on a DVD and kept a copy at my house and another in my locker at work. This can be used in the event of robbery, disaster, fire, or any other scenario where I would make a claim for my homeowner's insurance. We are in an era where we have cameras on our phones and blank dvd's or USB drives are cheap ($10). This cheap investment can help you with any insurance claim and guarantee a higher reimbursement check.