Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Preparedness, thanks urged ahead of Sept. 11, potential disasters

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 9/9/2013

“It’s a time for people to thank first responders,” Alan Radcliffe said.

“Not just law enforcement, firefighters and EMS,” Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said, “But also volunteers like Red Cross and faith-based organizations — anybody that responds to a large emergency or disaster. It also encourages people to have a plan and to have a to-go kit in case they are affected by a disaster or large emergency.”

“It’s a time for people to thank first responders,” Alan Radcliffe said.

“Not just law enforcement, firefighters and EMS,” Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said, “But also volunteers like Red Cross and faith-based organizations — anybody that responds to a large emergency or disaster. It also encourages people to have a plan and to have a to-go kit in case they are affected by a disaster or large emergency.”

September is National Preparedness Month, Radcliffe told Franklin County commissioners Wednesday before the county leaders officially recognized the designation. The special month dates back to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when President George W. Bush first declared the honorary status for the month.

Most Kansans are aware of such disasters as tornadoes and severe weather, as well as the need to prepare for them, Radcliffe said, but many other emergencies can force people out of their homes — or force them to stay in their homes.

“People locally need to understand that doesn’t mean the Hurricane Katrinas specifically,” he said. “In our local community, it can be something as simple as a large downtown fire or a chemical warehouse catches fire and the smoke in an area forces people to evacuate to a shelter or stay in place. Or a Haz-Mat incident caused a transportation accident where chemicals are stored in a facility and they start leaking and ask people to evacuate their properties.”

With the recent frequency of train derailments, Radcliffe said, railway incidents pose another potential threat.

“Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad runs through the county right down between Seventh and Ninth streets in Wellsville,” he said. “We have three communities where a train derailment could be a major disaster for [Franklin County].”

Having an emergency preparedness plan in place can help ensure all family members in a household know the proper steps to take in the event of a disaster, he said.

“That’s why people need to have a plan and practice it,” he said. “And have a plan they know, so everyone in the family knows what to do in case they need to evacuate or find their other family members that may get displaced.”

The Franklin County emergency management office has a list of items on its website of things every family should have in case of an emergency, Radcliffe said.

“Plan on if you’re going to shelter in place, having enough food and water for everybody for 72 hours,” he said. “If you’re elderly or taking medications, you want to have enough medication to take also. And also enough food and water for pets.”

Having a list of items needed and a plan in place for winter weather also is crucial, he said. If roads are impassable, the same measures and precautions should be taken.

“You’re going to want to have a different [emergency kit] in your car in case you get stranded,” Radcliffe said. “So blankets and a flashlight or some type of light in case it’s at night, have a glow stick to have light. Carry cat litter or some sort of absorbent material to get better traction if you’re stuck in the snow.”

To-go kits and emergency kits can be put together at home or purchased online, Radcliffe said. An emergency plan also can be found online at ksready.gov, he said.

“Download the family plan and fill it out,” he said. “Sit down with people in the family and fill it out like you would a fire escape plan and practice it at least once a year. The month of September would be a good time to practice that.”

comments powered by Disqus