LEXINGTON, Ky. (12/6/13) – With winter weather beginning to make its way into the Commonwealth, the Lexington Division of Emergency Management wants to ensure you and your family are safe and prepared in case of severe winter storms.
John Bobel is the public information officer for Lexington's Division of Emergency Management. He said it's important to have a plan for when the power goes out, such as having a battery powered AM/FM radio with fresh batteries and keeping your home stocked with wood if it has a fireplace or wood stove.
He added to have a cell phone ready with emergency phone numbers stored, such as your electrical provider.
“Even if your power goes out, it's likely the cell phone service will still work,” said Bobel. “A good thing to do is report to the power company that your power has gone out.”
To keep your cell phone charged, Bobel suggests having a charger that will work in your vehicle.
Bobel added the Division of Emergency Management recommends people be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.
“That means that you should have food and water, clothing, medicines so that if you were home bound for 72 hours that you could sustain yourself,” said Bobel. “If the power goes out, do you have those battery operated devices so that you can stay somewhat in touch?”
In cases of large-scale power outages, Bobel said it's crucial to have a plan of action as to where you would go in severe instances, such as a relative or friend's home or a hotel room.
“Obviously if there's a large-scale outage you may have to go further away assuming the roads are open,” said Bobel. “We encourage people to have those plans in place. Certainly, the benchmark is three days and then think through, 'If we finally find out that this is going to take longer to restore, then what do we do?'”
During previous ice storms in the past, such as in 2003 and 2009, it was weeks and even months before power was fully restored to some rural areas, said Bobel. In those instances, he added it is more important than ever to plan ahead.
“There it really is a question of how do you sustain yourself,” said Bobel. “If you're in a rural area, do you have a wood stove that will heat one room that you can keep going? Do you have enough wood close to the house that you can keep going? Do you have a generator outdoors and enough fuel so that you can keep going? If you have to leave your home, where are you going to go? Who are you going to stay with? How far away do you have to go before you can come back?”
In severe instances where you may have to leave your home, Bobel said Kentucky has a great 511 service that will give statewide road conditions. He also suggests calling city or county governments. Here in Lexington, that number is 311.
“They will be able to either give you information or route you to the correct place that can give you information on road conditions,” said Bobel. “Kentucky is pretty well wired in terms of getting emergency information out to the public.”
Bobel said taking the time to make these preparations can keep your family safe and ensure you are ready to take the appropriate actions at a moment's notice.
“Everybody's situation is going to be different,” said Bobel. “It's important that everybody take a couple of minutes now, go through what you need. Some people can put an emergency kit in a backpack. Other people need a couple of Rubbermaid totes with all the stuff that they need for not only themselves or their family members, but their pets.”
Bobel reminds families to also have a plan for pets, adding that if you have to evacuate, you can't leave pets in the home either.
For a full list of safety tips during extreme winter weather, visit www.bereadylexington.com or www.lexingtonky.gov/dem. Or, stay updated through social media. Lexington's Division of Emergency Management's Twitter account is @lexkyem. They also have a facebook page titled “Lexington KY Emergency Management”, as well as a blog that can be viewed at www.lexkyem.blogspot.com.
SurfKY News Reporter
Photo provided by bereadylexington.org
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