Be ready in case of emergency


Local residents may not have to worry about Hurricane Harvey causing problems here, but there are plenty of other emergency situations that can happen in Jackson County.

Tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards, ice storms, heat waves, power outages and even chemical spills or leaks can and have taken place in the county and can easily occur again.

Being prepared can help make those situations less stressful and in some instances can mean the difference between life and death, local health officials said.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the Jackson County Health Department is presenting a free educational series to help people start thinking and planning for an emergency.

County health officer Dr. Christopher Bunce said the series is a way for the health department to educate and enable families to self-prepare for situations they’re likely to face in southern Indiana.

“We want to help people help themselves,” he said. “Preparedness is thinking about all the things that are likely to happen. Having a well-stocked pantry might help you in a blizzard, but when your house burns down, it won’t help.”

Sessions will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays in September at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour. The theme this year is “Ready … Make a plan. Build a kit. Be informed.”

Each class will include videos, discussion, written information and door prizes.

The first session is Tuesday and is a general introduction to emergency preparedness. Lin Montgomery, the health department’s public health coordinator, will present information on specific types of emergencies and disasters that can happen here and what people can do to better prepare themselves for such situations.

“If we have a major disaster in Jackson County, we have great responders,” she said. “We have great fire departments and law enforcement, but it could take up to 72 hours to reach some of the folks out in the county. When we had the blizzard in ‘78, I went six days with no rescue, no heat, no electricity. We were not prepared.”

During the first session, people will learn how to write their own emergency plan and communication plan and learn about the best items to include in a home emergency kit, including flashlights, batteries, bottled water, dry or canned food, a handheld can opener, a Swiss army knife, medications, copies of vital records and cash.

Having a plan of how to contact family members and where to meet them also is important, Bunce said.

“Having a plan. Thinking about it. Going through the steps. What if? What if?” he said. “I even think that it’s important for people who live in multistory homes to have a plan for fire escape.”

Bunce said before joining the health department, he wasn’t aware of the agency’s involvement in preparing residents to face emergencies and disasters. Now, he is finding things he can do to be more prepared.

“Preparedness is not what the government can do for you,” he said. “It’s what can you do for yourself with a little bit of education and guidance from the government, which in this instance is the public health department.”

The second session will be Sept. 12 and focus on how to help others, including neighbors and the community. Speakers will include representatives from the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and local church disaster relief groups.

“You need to check on your neighbors,” Montgomery said. “The elderly, the disabled, they may require special services. Get to know your neighbors and what they need, too.”

Those who attend will learn about different response groups in Jackson County, when and how they respond, steps people can take to better assist neighbors and the community, how to help the elderly, people with disabilities and those who may be isolated and the difference between shelter in place and evacuation and how to prepare for both.

The third session will be Sept. 19 and will be a discussion on planning to help yourself through healthy living and how the health department can be a part of those efforts. Speakers will be Montgomery and Paul Ramsey, an environmentalist with the health department.

Participants will learn what they can do to keep themselves and loved ones safe from disease and harm around the home.

“You cannot help others unless you are prepared and healthy yourself,” Montgomery said.

The final session is Sept. 26 and is one Montgomery expects to be popular. It will focus on pet preparedness. Dr. Jodi Lovejoy with the Indiana State Department of Health Board of Animal Health will share her experiences in helping farm animals during the Henryville tornado and provide tips on how to be prepared to keep livestock and pets safe. She also will be going over first aid for pets.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

September is National Preparedness Month.

The Jackson County Health Department is offering a free educational series to help residents be more prepared to face emergencies and disasters.

Sessions will be every Tuesday in September from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour.

Sept. 5: Emergency preparedness; speaker Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator

Sept. 12: Plan to help others, neighbors and community; speakers include representatives from the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and local church disaster relief groups

Sept. 19: Plan to help yourself. Healthy living: How the health department can help; speakers, Lin Montgomery, Paul Ramsey, health department environmentalist

Sept. 26: Pet preparedness; speaker Dr. Jodi Lovejoy with the Indiana State Department of Health Board of Animal Health

For information, call Lin Montgomery at the Jackson County Health Department at 812-522-6474.


No posts to display