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Local emergency operations center reminds people to make a plan during national preparedness month

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:19 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Many people were not prepared for February’s brutal winter storm, but now is the time to get ready for anything that could come our way.

September is national preparedness month. The emergency operations center in Waco said the designation is something the federal government created to get people thinking about what kind of disasters or emergencies might affect them.

Here in Texas, the EOC said flooding is often a concern. In order to be prepared for emergencies, the EOC said there are a few important things to keep in mind.

“It’s more about mindset than an action,” Ryan Dirker, assistant emergency management coordinator, said. “If something were to befall me or my family and we had to get out of town for a few days, where would you go?”

Dirker said having a go bag ready is something they often discuss at the EOC. He said it should be a bag with anything you would need if you had to pick up and go on short notice.

Dirker said that includes food, medication, any charging cords you may need. He said the federal government has a website, ready.gov, with more information about those kinds of resources.

In addition to a go bag, Dirker said it’s important to have the contact information of family and friends written down, especially for people who live outside the area if you need to evacuate.

If you’re not able to leave your home, Dirker said it’s important to think about what you need to survive day to day and have that on hand, like food you can eat using the least amount of household appliances.

If you do need to stay at home during an emergency, there are some supplies you can have on hand to help.

Keith Hardware store manager Brian Schmunsler said having items like a generator, propane heater, fan, or propane stove can help make it through being at home without power.

“I won’t say it could be the difference between life and death,” Schmunsler said. “But to an extent, it could be very, very close. A generator can run your refrigerator, your freezer, your coffee pot, your air conditioners or your heaters, make a huge difference.”

Schmunsler said during flooding season, a generator would be the most useful, in case you lose power. However, during winter, he recommends something like a heater that can keep your house warm.

Schmunsler said now is the time to consider buying items like this, since during the winter storm, many places were closed, or sold out.

“People have been preparing since it basically opened up after the winter storm,” Schmunsler said. “We sell generators and stuff like that all year, but it is very, very important to prepare right now.”

Dirker said the winter storm caught a lot of people off-guard, himself included, and preparation is an important mindset.

“It doesn’t mean you have to constantly live in fear,” Dirker said. “But it does, I think, benefit people to just every now and then, take a look around and think okay, if I needed to pick up and go someplace, how would I do that.”

If you are purchasing items like a generator or propane heater, Schmunsler said it’s important to know what can be used inside, and what can’t. He said generators should never be used inside, and while some propane heaters are safe, not all are.

Schmunsler added that it’s also important to know what a generator will power. Unless you have a whole home generator, you’ll only be able to power a few items.

The federal website ready.gov has other resources to keep in mind as you prepare for possible disasters.

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