Barrow County Fire and Emergency Services have joined with the Department of Homeland Security in marking September as National Preparedness Month.
If every family in Barrow County looks at becoming better prepared, the damages and loss of life from a disaster can be reduced, according to local officials.
“Being prepared is very important in a disaster no matter how big or small,” said Lt. Scott Dakin, public information officer. “The better prepared a citizen is the more they increase their chances of surviving a disaster. It also will help in recovering from such an event.”
One way that Barrow County Fire and Emergency Services prepares for disasters is by participating with the Barrow County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
There are two personnel that serve as officers with the EMA. Assistant chief Mark Melvin is the deputy director and Lt. Ernest Weant is the operations officer. Both personnel have taken extensive training to become certified emergency managers.
The Barrow County Emergency Management Agency is a local organization that serves to prepare and assist in the protection of life and property in the event of a natural or man made disaster. This is accomplished through the process of preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
Another group that the department participates in is the Barrow County Citizens Corp Council.
Assistant chief Mark Melvin serves as the head of the council, and Lt. Ernest Weant and Lt. Scott Dakin also serve on the council.
The Citizen Corps Council works with the EMA and other public safety departments to establish volunteers to assist with disaster mitigation. One of the volunteer organizations that falls under the Citizens Corp is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
CERT is a group of trained volunteers that can assist in different ways to mitigate disasters and other ways to assist public safety. The current CERT classes will have seven different personnel from fire and emergency Services participating as instructors for the class.
One type of natural disaster that citizens of Barrow County need to prepare for is tornados. Jackson and Hall counties were recently hit by tornadoes from the effects of Tropical Storm Faye. With this in mind, it is important for citizens to be prepared and alert for tornadoes. It is also important to know the terms used by the Weather Service.
When Barrow County is under a tornado watch it means that tornadoes are possible. Citizens should watch the sky for approaching storms and monitor the radio or television for updates.
When a tornado warning is issued, it means that a tornado has been spotted or is indicated by weather radar. If Barrow County goes under a tornado warning, citizens should immediately seek shelter. It is important to have a plan in place before a tornado warning is issued.
Every family in Barrow County should have a disaster plan that includes what to do in the event of a tornado or tornado warning.
This tornado plan should include where to go for shelter in a building or if caught outside. As part of your plan, you should also include what family members should do after a tornado has occurred. You should answer questions such as how to contact each other if family members become separated, where you would stay if your home is damaged by a tornado, and many other questions.
“A family disaster plan will help in reducing the damage and stress that a disaster can place on your family,” Dakin said. “It is much better to be prepared before a disaster occurs, than to try to determine what to do when a disaster occurs.”
For more information on developing your family’s disaster plan, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.fema.gov or www.ready.gov for information about planning from the Department of Homeland Security.
This is great information. I believe that prevention through education is the best way for preparation. It would be wonderful if classes were offered to the community from the emergency personnel teams so that people can prepare before the disaster hits and not wait until they are in the midst of it.