Being prepared for an emergency is as simple as 1-2-3.
1. Have a Disaster Supply Kit
Putting together a disaster supply kit requires very little time or money but can be invaluable to you in the days following a disaster. Most items in your kit should be in a sturdy, waterproof container and include the things your family will need (don’t forget the pets) for the first three days after a disaster.
You don’t have to create your kit in one day; take time each week to place a few of the items you need in your kit. Some suggested items include:
- Water, at least 1 gallon per person per day
- Non-perishable food and a manual can opener
- Paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels
- Battery-powered radio and a NOAA weather radio with extra batteries for each
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Hygiene products such as baby wipes, extra soap and shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, etc.
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Tools, including a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Copies of important family documents, insurance policies, etc.
Other things to think about putting in your kit:
- Comfort items for kids, such as books, puzzles, and toys
- Money, both cash and change, in case credit and debit cards do not work
- A complete change of clothing for each family member including a pair of sturdy shoes
- Prescription medications and extra glasses/contacts
- Specialty items for infants, the elderly or anyone in your home with special needs
2. Create an Emergency Plan
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes! It is important to plan in advance what you will do if a disaster happens and you are separated.
You should talk with your family about:
- How you will contact each another,
- Where you will meet up and get back together, and
- What you will do in different situations, like being at work, at school, at nights, and on weekends, if one of you is out of town on business, etc.
Talking about your plan now will help reduce fear and anxiety if a disaster happens.
Here are some tips in mind when creating emergency plan:
- Create a list of addresses and phones numbers for the places where your family spends the most time along with family members’ cell phone numbers and work numbers. Each family member should have a copy of the list and a copy should be placed in your disaster kit.
- Identify meeting places in your neighborhood (in case of a house fire) and meeting places outside your neighborhood in case you have to evacuate.
- Select an out-of-town relative or friend to be the “family contact person”. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long distance call than a local call. If separated, family members should call the “contact person” and tell him or her where they are. Everyone must know the contact’s name, address, and phone number.
- Know what to do if authorities instruct you to shelter in place or evacuate.
- Practice and maintain your plan by reviewing and updating it every six months or with any major changes in your family.
3. Be Informed
It is important to know the hazards in your community. These hazards can be natural, like severe weather, or man-made, such as a hazardous materials incident. Take time to discuss these hazards with your family, including how can prepare for them and how you will respond if faced with one.
Some of the top natural hazards in Calhoun County include:
- Severe thunderstorms, high winds, and lightning
- Ice storms
Being informed also includes knowing how to get emergency information. In an emergency, you may hear information broadcast using something called the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS provides emergency information on the radio, over TV channels, and on cable TV (some stations).
Another important method of receiving emergency information is Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). WEA alerts are sent to smartphones capable of receiving them (most smartphones). You do not have to 'sign up' for these alerts--your phone will receive them automatically. It is important NOT to 'cancel' or 'disable' WEA alerts when you receive them, or you may not receive future alerts.
EAS Stations Serving Calhoun County
WVOK 97.9 "K 98"
WBRC Fox TV Channel 6
WVTM NBC TV Channel 13
WJXS TV Channel 24
WJSU ABC TV Channel 33/40
NOAA Weather Radio
A NOAA Weather Radio is an important item to have in your disaster supply kit because it not only lets your receive severe weather watches and warnings but it can also be a way authorities broadcast important information during an emergency. To ensure that you are receiving informatio
n for Calhoun County, make sure your radio is set to Channel 4 and S.A.M.E county code 001015.
For weather radio programming instructions, please visit this page hosted by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/?n=nwr
Outdoor Warning Sirens
An important part of being informed also means knowing your siren tones.
In Calhoun County, we use different tones for tornadoes, a hazardous material accident, an attack on the United States, and siren tests
The severe weather tone is a long, high pitched tone.
The tone for a hazardous material accident is a high-low tone (like a European ambulance siren).
The sound for the siren test, conducted the first Tuesday of each month at 4:00 PM, is a long wail tone.
The sound for a hostile attack on the United States is a fast wail tone.