Virginia Cooperative Extension encourages citizens to have an emergency plan

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 3, 2007 – The end of hurricane season is approaching, but that doesn't mean that weather emergencies won't occur. In fact, weather and other emergencies know no season. That is why Virginia Cooperative Extension urges residents to make an emergency plan, stay informed, and never disregard a hurricane, food, or other emergency warning.

“Before an evacuation order comes, listen to your radio for emergency instructions,” said Bobby Grisso, Extension engineer. “If leaving your home is not immediately necessary, proceed with emergency preparations.”

Prepare a disaster supplies kit. In the event of an evacuation order, you will need to take eyeglasses, medications and prescription medicines, a small supply of canned food, flashlights, and several blankets. Emergency supplies to have on hand include:

Other useful items include boards and plywood, nails, plastic sheeting, hand tools, fire extinguishers, ropes, wire, and sandbags.

Local officials may ask residents to “shelter in place” during an emergency such as a hurricane or flood. Grisso said it is important to listen to radio instructions from local emergency officials. When you are told to “shelter in place,” remain in your home or office and protect yourself there.

According to Grisso, an order to “shelter in place” may also occur during a chemical or hazardous materials emergency. During this scenario, be prepared to secure all windows and exterior doors and close vents and fireplace dampers. Turn off all fans and heating and air conditioning systems. Get your disaster supplies kit and go to an interior room without windows that is above ground level. Wear protective clothing that covers your body such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy shoes, hats, and eye protection. Remember that some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements. Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room. Include spaces around pipes.

“Most importantly, listen to the radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate,” Grisso said.

Have an emergency plan for your pets too. Due to health regulations, animals are not allowed inside emergency shelters. Grisso said it is best to decide now where you will take your pet if you must leave. Make arrangements for your pets, either securing them in your home or transporting them to a safe place. When you leave your home, remember to take a collar, harness, identification tags, vaccination records, medications and food for your service animal with you. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has information about caring for pets during an emergency on its website.

Virginia Cooperative Extension brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to the people of the commonwealth. Through a system of on-campus specialists and locally based agents, it delivers education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community viability, and 4-H youth development. With a network of faculty at two universities, 107 county and city offices, 13 agricultural research and Extension centers, and six 4-H educational centers, Virginia Cooperative Extension provides solutions to the problems facing Virginians today.