Be prepared for emergencies

By Jennifer Woods -

Tornadoes can happen at any point in the year, but Ohio is currently in the peak time for tornadoes—April though July.

The Fayette County Office of Emergency Management (EMA) and many other organizations encourage the creation of a disaster plan. The purpose of the plan is to have something in place prior to a disaster happening to make the aftermath easier for your family—kids can especially benefit from this as there will be a plan for them to follow if they are not with their parents or guardians when disaster strikes.

Emergencies and natural disasters can happen unexpectedly, but citizens can still be prepared with proper planning. Some disasters to watch for in our area includes tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Families are encouraged to sit down, talk about plan ideas, then write that plan down. Make sure every member of the family, especially children, understand what the plan is.

Some general planning for a disaster plan includes a contact person and meeting location.

Choose a contact person. This is one person in the family who everyone will contact in the case of an emergency. Choose a second contact. This is the person everyone will contact if the first contact is unreachable in an emergency. Be sure to have those contact persons’ phone numbers and emails at all times.

Have a meeting location. This location can be near the area the family lives in, in-town or out-of-town. It needs to be a simple location that everyone can find even when in a state of confusion after a disaster has occurred. It would be okay to have two locations—the primary meet-up but also a secondary meet-up just in case someone is unable to get to the primary location.

Have a disaster kit ready with essential items. Melissa Havens, director of the Fayette County EMA, explained that no disaster kit is the same—it depends on who it is for. Her own children have their own kits that include something to keep them busy in case of evacuation to a shelter. One item she included in a kit is a deck of cards, a pad and some crayons.

Items to consider having ready for a disaster are one gallon of water per person per day, nonperishable but healthy food, a manual can-opener, a first aid kit, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, filter masks (helps in case of air pollution), plastic sheeting, strong tape, paper towels, wipes, three days worth of clean clothes, jacket or coat, a bucket—toilet paper—garbage bags with ties, blankets, identification and insurance information, some cash and at least a three-day supply of medications.

Havens said, “Medications—that’s a big big one. Is your prescription about to expire? Can you get more in the middle of an emergency?” She said it is important to always have a fresh supply in the emergency kit just in case.

Pets are something to think of in advance as well. Havens explained that many people will not leave home without their pets so they must be sure they can take care of their pets—perhaps some food, an extra leash and an extra collar.

Havens said, “It is extremely important for our residents to be able to take care of themselves for at least the first 24 hours after an incident but possibly up to 72 hours—because immediately following a tornado or high winds that cause a power outage or a snow storm—our responders are going to be extremely busy responding to the emergencies that take place right after. Such as car accidents or someone that does have a medical issue.”

Havens explained if residents can take care of themselves as best as they can for that initial period, it allows first responders to prioritize the ones that really need the help and to allow the major problems to be cleared up sooner.

Nixle! is a method of communication to receive information from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office pertaining to emergency-related information in Fayette County. This includes road closures, unexpected school closings and delays, severe weather notifications, evacuation orders, etc.… text your zip code to 888-777 for text updates or go to and enter your zip code for the latest information.

For more information or questions, the Fayette County EMS can be reached at 740-335-8264.

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @kenanipel.

By Jennifer Woods