With winter on the horizon and cold temperatures already invading the area, local residents are being reminded to stock up for emergencies and anticipate power outages or other events that might make travel or deliveries temporarily impossible.
James Lyle, director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, said Friday that local residents should prepare for emergencies by stocking up on items like bottled water, canned food and crucial medications, and keep battery-powered lamps and heating alternatives on standby.
Lyle urges people to heed the lessons learned during the debilitating ice storm of 2004 that crippled much of Highland County and left countless residents stranded or in need of shelters. That event was a reminder of the lengths necessary for emergency preparedness, he said.
“Be prepared to be self-sustaining for at least 24 hours,” said Lyle, although he noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends preparing for up to 72 hours.
“We take too much for granted sometimes,” said Lyle. “We’re pretty resilient and self-supporting here. We’ve used very little state resources.”
But weather emergencies can strike with little warning, especially in the colder months of December through March. Lyle recalled the devastating blizzard of 1978, which buried the county in snow but which saw hundreds of people coming to the aid of their neighbors and stranded motorists with snow plows, tractors and chains to help remove vehicles from ditches or snow banks.
Lyle recommended that residents take a few moments to view videos on preparedness that are available on the Highland County EMA website at www.highlandcountyema.com. The videos cover issues such as family emergency planning, evacuation planning, home readiness, emergency kits and other items.
Lyle, who was a full-time firefighter for 33 years and is still a volunteer firefighter, also urged people who use fireplaces to have their chimneys inspected, and warned people to remember that if they are stranded while diving they should be aware of possible carbon monoxide poisoning from idling vehicles.
Lyle also expressed his appreciation to everyone who recently donated supplies for the victims of the Tennessee wildfires. He and his wife, Cheryl, recently delivered those donations to the Gatlinburg area.
Lyle said anyone with questions about emergency preparedness can call 937-393-5880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.