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Authorities stress importance of staying prepared

Officials offer advice on staying ready for emergency situations

POSTED: September 24, 2013 11:27 p.m.

Although residents weathered a rainy summer, September marks National Preparedness Month, and Hall County Fire Services is urging Gainesville and Hall County residents to remain vigilant.

“I think the takeaway would be use those experiences this summer — whether it was being without power, or having your road washed away, and not be able to get resources — is have that disaster kit,” said Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle, citing multiple incidents that left residents stranded. “Hopefully people will use that as a warning to be ready.”

This September marks the 10th year the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sponsored the public information campaign for preparedness awareness and action.

To prevent dire consequences of severe weather, emergency officials recommend a game plan for three days without electricity, water services, access to a supermarket or local services.

“Step 1 — we encourage all families to prepare a disaster kit in their home, disaster kit being food, water and first aid kit,” Cagle said. “The second step is make a plan. Have a disaster plan for your family.”

Rounding out the boiled-down tenets of preparedness, Cagle stressed signing up for the Citizen’s Alert System, which sends emergency and nonemergency alerts, for free.

“We really push three different steps as far as getting citizens ready — prepare, plan and stay informed. The alert system would be the last: Be aware of new and changing information,” he said.

Hall County officials are able to alert residents about severe weather, fires, floods, toxic environmental issues and violent crimes as they happen.

Messages can be sent across different communication media, including cellphone, landline, email and text messaging.

Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell agreed that staying connected through the system allows the department to serve residents in an emergency scenario.

“We have a commitment to protect our citizens from any danger that threatens our community. The ability to reach all residents quickly during an emergency in order to warn them and provide guidance is critical to upholding that commitment,” he said.

“The mass notification and interactive communication system ensures Hall County will be able to react quickly and efficiently to reach each individual in the case of an emergency.”

In a joint effort of the city of Gainesville and Hall County, officials are hosting a preparedness fair from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“This is the first time that we’ve done this — this is all about preparedness, being hosted by Interactive Neighborhood for Kids,” Cagle said.

As summer ends and winter approaches, Cagle said, there will be a focus on the most treacherous seasonal threat — freezing precipitation.

“The thing with our county is we don’t have the snow issues, but we have ice issues. Again, it’s a great time to get a (preparedness) kit if people don’t have one,” Cagle said.


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