The first step in making a home disaster resistant is knowing what possible disasters you could face. In central Kentucky, severe weather is the primary threat.
Extreme heat, extreme cold, blizzards and ice storms, high winds and tornadoes happen on a regular basis. Depending on the area, flooding and flash flooding are threats any time of the year.
Truck and railroad traffic also increase risks in Fayette County, as major state and interstate highways cross paths here. The largest military stockpile of chemical agents is stored just 30 miles from Lexington at the Blue Grass Army Depot. These two factors present an increased threat for an accident involving dangerous chemicals or agents.
Earthquakes, while not common in Kentucky, still present a threat as the New Madrid Fault line runs through western Kentucky. An earthquake would cause damage to structures in Lexington, but more significant would be the disruption in utilities, transportation, food supplies and other services.
Health and medical threats are real as well. Outbreaks of influenza or other diseases are possible, especially if children and adults aren’t properly immunized.
Here are the most likely threats in Lexington and Fayette County:
- Extreme summer weather (heat & drought)
- Extreme winter weather (cold & ice storms)
- Severe thunderstorms
- Hazardous chemical release
- Power outage
Family Disaster Planning
Once you know the most likely threats, the next step is to develop a family disaster plan. Some of the items are simple, others will take more time to put together, but here’s a start:
• Designate an out-of-town friend or relative as your family emergency contact. Share their phone number with all family members. If family members are unable to get together due to an emergency, an out-of-town contact may be easier to reach than an in-town contact.
• Identify a weather shelter safe room and a chemical hazard shelter-in-place room in your home and workplace.
• Know the differences between severe weather advisories, watches and warnings. Learn what the different outdoor warning siren sounds mean.
• Know how to turn off the gas, water and electric utilities in your home.
• Make a paper list of important phone numbers.
• Know how to text message from a cell phone. Text messages will go through when voice calls won’t.
• Gather important documents like birth certificates, legal documents, insurance policies, marriage licenses, prescriptions and medical records. Make copies and put the copies and the originals in safe places (not the same place!)
Personal & Family Disaster Kit
During an emergency, you should have an emergency kit that will help you and your family deal with the situation. Your kit should include enough food, water and other items to sustain you and your family for three days.
- Bottled water – At least one gallon per household member (including pets) per day.
- Food – Choose items that don’t need to be heated and have a long shelf life.
- Hand-cranked can opener.
- Paper plates and utensils.
- Blankets and sleeping bags.
- Battery-operated radio.
- NOAA All-Hazards weather radio.
- Extra batteries.
- Plastic trash bags and paper towels.
- ABC-type fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Copies of important documents
It’s important to stay aware of weather and other events in your city or town. A NOAA All-Hazards weather radio with battery backup will give you the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches and warnings. Television and radio stations, newspapers, websites and social media channels all have good sources of information you may need before, during and after an emergency.
Personal preparedness is the foundation of community preparedness. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency can help you preserve the lives and livelihood of family, friends and neighbors. The Division of Emergency Management coordinates Lexington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. CERT members go through nine weeks of training so that in case of an emergency, they can response when police, fire and other public safety department responders can’t. The local Red Cross office offers several first aid and CPR classes.