Chatham County joins N.C. to promote August as ‘Preparedness Month’

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PITTSBORO — With the peak of hurricane season approaching, Chatham County Emergency Management is encouraging residents and businesses to review and discuss their emergency plans and update their emergency supplies kits.

“Emergencies can happen anytime and are often not predictable,” said Steve Newton, Chatham County Emergency Management Director. “Whether it is a man-made emergency or weather event residents can prepare by making a family emergency plan and having an emergency supply kit. Knowing what you are going to do and practicing your plan will help you and your family to respond quickly in an emergency. It will also help you to recover faster should a disaster affect your home.”

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed August as North Carolina Preparedness Month in advance of the peak weeks of hurricane season.

Newton encourages residents, schools and business owners to make a plan and practice it routinely with other household members, staff or employees. The plan should include details about where to meet, how to get in touch with one another, evacuation plans, what to do with pets and how to notify employees after an emergency.

“Part of your plan should be where you will evacuate to if needed,” Newton said. “If possible, your plan should include staying with family or friends. Staying at a hotel is also a good plan. Staying at a shelter should be a plan of last resort. The next step is to put together an emergency supplies kit, which contains items needed for survival regardless of the emergency.”

Making an emergency kit

• Water – 1 gallon per person per day for 3 to 7 days

• Food – non-perishable and canned food supply for 3 to 7 days

• Mask or cloth face coverings for each family member

• Hand sanitizer

• Sanitizing wipes

• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with extra batteries

• Cell phone with charger

• First aid kit and first aid book

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• Manual can opener for food

• Wrench or pliers to turn off water

• Blanket or sleeping bag – 1 per person

• Prescription medications, eyeglasses and hearing aids

• Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes

• Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine supplies

• Extra house and car keys

• Important documents – insurance policies, copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account records

• Fire extinguisher

• Cash and change

• Books, games or cards

Emergency shelter plans

Depending on forecasted impact, emergency management officials may recommend Sheltering in Place instead of opening a disaster shelter. Chatham County will not open a pre-landfall shelter, before a storm hits, except under imminent direct threat of an extreme event (forecast of direct, sustained, significant impact less than 24 hours out). If congregate sheltering is required, Chatham County’s strategy will be to open one facility. A second facility will be considered if the first shelter nears its capacity. Chatham County may pre-position, and possibly deploy equipment and supplies in to one or more designated shelter facilities; however, the facilities would remain closed until impact and demand are known.

Members of the public should exercise additional caution when traveling to a shelter as trees and power lines may have fallen, and roads may be flooded. Residents should obey road closed signs and follow directional signs when checking in to a shelter.

Emergency shelter COVID-19 safety precautions

Shelter(s) open in Chatham County will abide by strict guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All clients, staff and volunteers are required to wear face coverings and physical distance will be monitored and enforced among individuals not in the same household. Each client will have their temperature checked and must complete a questionnaire related to the coronavirus; those who are confirmed positive or are symptomatic must remain isolated from other shelter clients. The use of cots will be limited to those clients with medical issues, and six feet of distance must be maintained from individuals not in the same household. Meals and snacks will likely be individually packaged, such as boxed or bag lunches, heater meals, and/or Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE). Cleanliness will be key at Chatham County emergency shelters. Facilities will be cleaned often, and staff and clients must wash their hands and use hand sanitizer often.

“As we approach the height of hurricane season, it’s critical that Chatham County residents plan ahead for their families and not wait until a major storm is on its path toward North Carolina with potential impacts on our community,” Newton said.

For more emergency preparedness information visit ReadyNC.org or readychatham.org. Residents are encouraged to register for CodeRed alerts that are specific to Chatham County. Participants will receive a phone call and text message when there is an urgent update regarding severe weather or other emergency. When the Chatham County Emergency Operations Center is activated, residents with questions may call the EOC at 919-545-8181.

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