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Emergency workers urge families to make a plan

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:47:14 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 26 2013 03:37:54 PM CDT
RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. -

Russell County Emergency Management is urging people to be prepared in case of an emergency, whether it's a fire, a power outage, or a weather-related disaster.

Who can forget the past two winters with multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures! Russell County shelters operated for 4 days for up to 58 residents.

Most shelters operated without water and power while many other residents suffered at home through the power outages. Snowplow drivers, fire departments, emergency medical personnel, emergency management, social services, volunteers, and sheriff deputies worked around the clock to get roads open and evacuate residents to safety and to provide food, medicine, medical supplies, and water.

Last year, twenty-two homes homes were destroyed by fire from October 1, 20102 to July 31, 2011. Sadly, four Russell County residents lost their lives during the past two winter seasons as a result of structure fires. Previously, a resident almost lost his life from carbon monoxide poisoning while not using a heating source properly. Unfortunately, his dog did not survive. Since July 2013, Russell County has had six structure fires.

Russell County set records for the number of days with snow on the ground and the number of successive days that remained below freezing. And it could happen again this year! It is time to prepare for winter and get ready for possible bad weather. All it takes is one heavy snow or an ice storm to knock out the power to remind us that being prepared ahead of time just makes good sense.

· Make a plan.

Decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if your family is separated and cannot return home because of closed roads or structure fire. Choose an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's point of contact for emergency communications. With your family, write down your emergency plan-get a free worksheet by clicking here.

· Get a kit.

Here are basic supplies for winter weather: three days' food; three days' water (a gallon per person per day); a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries; and your written family emergency plan. After you have these essential supplies, add a first aid kit, medications if needed, blankets and warm clothing, supplies for special member of your household, and pet items.

· Stay informed.

Before, during, and after a winter storm, you should listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials. Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions. You can get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511.

· Heater safety.

Your safety is important to you and others, so when using a heating source, please read and follow the instructions carefully. Using a heater inappropriately can result in death, serious bodily injury, property loss, or damage from hazards of fire, explosion, burn, asphyxiation, carbon monoxide poisoning, and/or electrical shock. Some heaters, like an inadequately vented gas-fired portable heater, uses room air (oxygen) and emit carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide emitted from certain heaters is deadly. Adequate combustion and ventilation must be provided. Using a portable gas camping heater inside a home, tent, recreational vehicle, camper, vehicle, shelter, or other enclosed areas is dangerous. In addition, when operating the heater, surfaces are extremely hot, so please keep all combustible materials clear of the heater by at least the distances recommended by the manufacturer.