Debbie Fisher: Stay prepared, in case an emergency strikes

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2022

With the devastation Hurricane Ian brought to Florida, this is a good reminder that natural (or man-made) disasters can happen at any time.

Knowing what disasters and hazards can affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where to go if you and your family need to evacuate should be part of that plan.

There are many sites that offer tips and free resources to help prepare for natural or man-made disasters. FEMA’s Ready Program ( was launched in 2003 to help educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, including man-made or natural, and to increase the level of basic preparedness across our nation. You can order free preparedness materials from FEMA’s website that can be shipped directly to you at no cost.

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The National Safety Council, another resource, is a non-profit safety advocate that focuses on areas where it can make the greatest impact: workplace, roadway and impairment. They cover a number of safety topics including emergency preparedness, and they offer tips on how to prepare for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, and how to minimize fire risks.

Steps for planning ahead include:

1. Create a family emergency plan with your family, friends or household members and include information on how to communicate with family members and where to meet in case you need to evacuate. A fillable plan can be found at

2. Consider specific needs in your household such as ages, disabilities or access and functional needs and medical needs including prescriptions and medical equipment.

3. Practice your plan with your family/household members.

4. Download the FEMA app for resources, alerts and safety tips.

5. Build a basic disaster supplies kit ( to ensure you have food, water and other supplies to last for several days.

6. Store all important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) in a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box.

7. Know how to shut off utilities.

When faced with a natural or man-made emergency, try to stay informed through radio, TV or the internet. If you haven’t already, please consider following Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency ( on Facebook. Our EMA director, Mike Boster, provides valuable information for our county during times of emergency.

Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety and losses that might otherwise happen during disasters or emergencies. For more information, please call Cindy Quillen, emergency response coordinator, at Lawrence County Health Department at 740-532-3962.

Debbie Fisher is a nurse and public information specialist for the Lawrence County Health Department.