WILLIAMSON – With winter weather right around the corner, Doug Goolsby Mingo County Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security discussed ways to be prepared for emergency situations year round.
Goolsby discussed the chaos that surrounds emergency situations. “Being prepared for the first 72 hours is the only way to alleviate the chaos,” Gooslby said.
“A lot of times, rescuers can’t get in to provide help in severe weather situations for 72 hours. It is important for everyone to have a situation awareness of what is going on,” Goolsby said.
Goolsby also stressed the importance of good communication and forming alliances with neighbors. “Check on neighbors, especially the elderly. If you know that a person has special needs or is in need of 911 assistance, do not hesitate to call for them,” Goolsby urged.
“The communication loop is important during an emergency. Not knowing is what hurts,” Goolsby continued.
According to an emergency guide published by Ready WV, steps can be taken to be prepared in the event of an emergency. The guide suggests having essentials on hand such as water, flashlights, radio, food, medicine and warm clothes or blankets.
According to a publication by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “You should plan in advance what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation, use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Think about the places where your family spends time: school, work and other places you frequent. Ask about their emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency.”
The DHS also suggests developing a family communications plan. The DHS guidebook states, “Consider a plan where each family member calls, or emails the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. Be sure each person knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.”
Knowing when to shelter in place and when to seek an emergency shelter is also suggested. Ready WV explains that shelter in place, “means for you to remain inside your home, workplace or school and protect yourself there.”
Goolsby explained that the American Red Cross sets up emergency shelters and cooling and warming stations. “There are many stipulations and it can be hard to find buildings for an emergency shelter. Fire Departments across the county are used as heating and warming stations. People needing assistance can also seek supplies such as water and blankets at the heating and warming stations,” Goolsby said.
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) can provide information concerning emergency events. The Ready WV guide book explains, “Emergency officials can activate the system to relay warnings and vital information to the public about what emergency actions to take. Emergency information will be repeated over these stations until the ‘all clear’ message has been given. The EAS will explain the emergency response level and will tell you what you should do.” For Logan and Mingo counties the EAS station is WVOW-AM 1290 and the telephone number is 304-752-5080.
Goolsby also stressed the importance of creating emergency plans that consider children and pets. “For children, try to have enough diapers and other supplies on hand to make it through the first 72 hours following an emergency. It is also important to look into provisions for pets. Bring them inside if the weather turns severe and have extra food and water for them,” Goolsby said.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.wv.gov.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)