Stay safe whatever the disaster

Justin Mays - Columnist

Spring is a beautiful season here in the mountains. Families spend more time outdoors, enjoying the warm temperatures. Unfortunately, during spring, heavy rain and high winds can occur. That is why it’s important to have a family emergency plan.

Weather emergencies can scare your loved ones, but helping them understand what to expect can help reduce the stress. Carefully go over your family emergency plan and teach them how to stay safe whatever the disaster.

Involve the whole family in creating an emergency supplies kit. Include water, nonperishable food, flashlights, blankets and don’t forget some kid-friendly activities. Practice your emergency plan. Include two evacuation routes, a safe room and two different meet-up locations. Make sure everyone, especially children, can run through it calmly.

Focus on the basics. Kids should know how to call 911, identify themselves, identify their location, reach emergency contacts and get to predetermined safe locations.

Know the various weather scenarios. Teach your family about the different disasters and how to react in each. During a tornado, go into the lowest level of the building and stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. If you are outside with no car or nearby shelter, lie down in a ditch and protect your head. During a severe thunderstorm, go indoors if you see lightning or hear thunder, and don’t use items that plug into electrical outlets. Avoid using running water, as faucets can conduct electricity.

During an earthquake, practice the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” method, and learn to recognize safe places in each room at home and at school. During flooding, don’t go into flooded areas. Did you know that just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet? Also, standing floodwater could be contaminated or contain sharp objects.

Enjoy springtime with your family, and remember to take a little time to review your emergency plan, so you can keep your family safe. There is nothing more precious than your family — you can always replace things when a disaster strikes.

I always like to close my column by sharing this truth that I live by: The key to having a successful life begins with being a good neighbor, building relationships based on honesty and trust, working hard to make a difference for your family and community and being thankful for all the blessings along the way.

Justin Mays is a local businessman who serves neighbors in Bell and Harlan counties in Kentucky and Claiborne County in Tennessee. He may be reached at [email protected]

Justin Mays


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