DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND PLANNING
FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
Planning the actions that individuals and
families can take to prepare against disaster can greatly reduce the loss of
life and even property. Knowing what to do allows quick action. Many
people die in disasters because they do not know what action to take and how to
Following are some tips on how to prepare
yourself and your family for the hazards we face in Lowndes County.
Generally, there are things you can do to
prepare for most all emergencies. The Columbus-Lowndes County Emergency
Management Agency encourages individuals and families to plan ahead by doing the
- Write a plan. Writing a plan formalizes ideas and sets up a
uniform way of responding to an emergency. Organized action is important. In
an emergency, seconds can save lives. People do what they practice, and in
the confused aftermath of a disaster, instinct brought about by practice
- Make a plan for fire, power outages, tornado, flood,
earthquakes and other disasters, which threaten you. Involve each person in
your family, no matter what their age or ability. Plan in advance. Practice
the plan and follow the plan when the emergency presents itself.
- At home, prepare for each family member a Grab-and-Go Kit
with a 3-day supply of food, water, clothes, medicine, baby items, etc. If
you evacuate your home, it keeps you self sufficient until your family is
reassembled and settled.
- Establish a rendezvous point just outside the home (the
mail box, for example, where everyone meets and counts heads after leaving
the house because of a fire). This allows quick identification of who is
missing-vital information for rescuers.
- Also establish a meeting place 1-2 miles from home (a
friend's or relative's house, for example, where family members can assemble
if access to their home is impossible because of destruction and danger). It
may be unlikely that both places will be affected by the same disaster and
this immediately gives your family a place to assemble. Also, it is not too
far to walk.
- Designate an out-of-town family member who can contact
other relatives. A central contact can call the many distant relatives
who otherwise would all be trying to call the devastated area. Phone systems
may be damaged, and after disasters they are typically overloaded for days.
Try to establish contact with your designated out-of town family member and
let them know how you are doing, so they can pass this information on to
others that will worry about your well-being.
- Get a NOAA Weather Radio, first aid supplies &
flashlight with batteries. Safeguard vital records, keys, cash, credit
cards, etc. Keep emergency supplies and equipment in your car.
- If you do not have to evacuate your home, make sure that
you have a phone available that plugs into a telephone jack into the wall.
If you have no electrical power, your cordless phones will not work. Make
certain that you have the ability to communicate with the outside world,
especially emergency response agencies.
- Include in your plan the purchase of insurance. Apartment
dwellers can even get insurance. It is also a good idea to maintain an
inventory of your belongings via photographs, video camera, or a written
list. Put your inventory information in a safe place such as a bank box or
vault. If you live in an area that typically floods, you may consider
getting flood insurance. For more details about the National Flood Insurance
Program, you may contact your insurance agent.
- After a disaster, account for your family; check on your
neighbors; render aid as needed; and notify authorities. Assemble your
family; reestablish a safe physical/emotional home environment and
PLANNING FOR PETS, SERVICE
ANIMALS, AND LIVESTOCK
Make advance arrangements with a boarding
kennel or stable, relative, etc. to care for your animals in anticipation of an
evacuation. A place 1-2 miles away may not be affected in the same evacuation.
Some hotels and motels accept pets. Call
If you can't move your animals, make water
(even in winter) and feed available. If possible, arrange shelter out of the
wind and sun.
PLANNING FOR UTILITY OUTAGES
During severe weather or winter storm events,
power outages may occur. This information is provided in conjunction with
Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric Power Association.
Columbus Light and Water and Four County
Electric Power Association restores power by working out from its major
substations and lines to its neighborhood feederlines then to lines along
streets and finally to individual homes. Report outages just once Columbus Light
and Water and Four County Electric Power Association keeps a list and multiple
requests do not speed repairs.
Columbus Light and Water and Four County
Electric Power Association keeps a Priority Restoration List for those who live
on electric powered life support systems. The patient's physician MUST request
Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric Power Association, by letter,
to add a patient to the list. Being on the list does not necessarily mean power
is restored quickly; if an up line substation is destroyed it will be a long
time and the patient may have to be moved elsewhere. Do not wait until a
person's condition is critical before planning the move.
Columbus Light and Water and Four County
Electric Power Association will repair power lines up to the meter weather head;
Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric Power Association will not
repair any damage to the weather head or to circuits in the house; the owner is
responsible for these repairs. These MUST be repaired by a licensed electrician
and inspected BEFORE Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric
Power Association will restore power.
Emergency Management, the Mississippi National
Guard, etc. do not provide generators for emergency power. Generators must be
purchased and installed in advance.
Generators connected to household wiring
systems MUST have a Transfer Box installed by a licensed electrician. The
Transfer Box isolates the house wiring from Columbus Light and Water and Four
County Electric Power Association lines when the generator is in use. Generators
installed without a Transfer Box send current outside the house circuit into
Columbus Utilities lines and can electrocute linemen working on the lines.
Appliances connected directly to a portable
generator and isolated from house wiring circuits do not need a Transfer Box.
Set the generator away from the house and use approved extension cords to
connect appliances. Keep extra fuel safely stored away from the generator in an
approved container. Do not run a generator indoors or even in an open garage!
The Carbon Monoxide will leak inside.
By law, residents may store only 5 gallons of
gasoline or kerosene in their home. All fuels must be kept in approved
containers. Do not use milk and anti-freeze jugs, glass jars and even approved
containers with missing lids, etc. Fumes spread from leaks and will find a
source of ignition.
SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY
Severe weather is the greatest threat in the
Tennessee Valley, and may appear as severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, and be
associated with straight line winds and lightning. The National Weather Service
has the responsibility for announcing watches and warnings for severe
thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, as well as winter storms. Watches and
warnings are announced through the NOAA Weather Radio.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS -
The National Weather Service has established
severe thunderstorm watches and
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that
severe thunderstorms are possible in and close to the watch area.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning
is issued when a severe thunderstorm is indicated on radar or reported by a
reliable source. A severe thunderstorm is any storm with winds in excess of 58
miles an hour or with hail 3/4-inch or larger.
SUGGESTED SEVERE THUNDERSTORM
- Stay informed: listen to your NOAA Weather Radio; use local
television and radio stations as backups.
- Be alert! Severe Thunderstorm Warnings must not be taken
lightly. Severe thunderstorms produce dangerous lightning, damaging winds,
hail and heavy rains which may result in flooding. Tornadoes can develop in
Severe Thunderstorms. Sometimes, severe thunderstorms can be more damaging
than tornadoes. The February 2001 severe weather that hit the Lowndes County
that did much damage was caused by a severe thunderstorm. It downed trees,
power lines, etc
- Usually, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are of short duration
(one hour) and you should continue to monitor commercial radio and/or TV, or
your NOAA Weather Radio for watch and warning bulletins.
TORNADOES - GENERAL INFORMATION
The National Weather Service Office has the
responsibility for announcing watches and warnings for
The National Weather Service announces both watches and warnings over the NOAA
The Columbus-Lowndes Emergency Management
Agency (EMA) has the primary responsibility for alerting emergency response
agencies and organizations as well as the general public.
EMA notifies emergency response agencies and
organizations by telephone and radio. EMA can alert approximately 75% of Lowndes
County residents of a Tornado Warning through use of the outdoor siren
warning system. We typically only sound the sirens for a tornado warning and for
tests which occur the first Wednesday of the month at noon. When you hear the
sirens, tune to a local television or radio station to find out what is going
on, and to take immediate action.
The general public is also alerted by messages
provided to local radio and TV stations by EMA .
ARES is an
organization of emergency amateur radio communicators that supports EMA,
surrounding counties, and the National Weather Service Office by linking storm
spotters tied together by the ARES net. Sightings or reports are passed on to
the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service has established
definitions for tornado watches and warnings:
A Tornado Watch means that weather
conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the
prescribed watch area during a specified period of time.
A Tornado Warning means that a
tornado has been visually sighted, detected on radar, or has
KNOW THE SAFEST PLACE TO GO
DURING A TORNADO THREAT
There are no designated public tornado
shelters in Lowndes County. Individuals are responsible for how they receive
public information, and the actions they take once they receive that
When a tornado approaches
- your immediate action can save your life. Take cover, preferably in a
tornado shelter, storm cellar, underground excavation, basement, or a
steel-framed or reinforced concrete building of substantial construction.
Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Protect your head.
In Homes or small buildings,
go to the basement or small interior room such as a closet or bathroom. Take
cover under a sturdy workbench or heavy table if possible. Keep away from
windows. If your windows are closed, leave them closed; if open, leave them
open; do not waste time, take cover!
Mobile Homes and
vehicles are particularly vulnerable to destructive winds and should be
abandoned for a more substantial structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie
flat in the nearest ditch, ravine, or culvert with your arms shielding your
head. Even secure tie-downs on mobile homes can't prevent overturning.
In Schools, follow
prepared plans and go to the designated areas or to the innermost portion on the
lowest floor. Students should crouch on the floor with their heads next to the
wall and should protect their head with their arms. Coats or jackets should be
used to cover heads, arms and legs.
In Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Office
Buildings, etc., go to the innermost portions on the
lowest floor, preferably in the basement, or to the designated protective area.
Avoid glass doorways and windows. Don't use elevators.
workers should move quickly to the pre-designated section of the plant offering
the best available protection in accordance with advance plans.
In Shopping Centers,
Auditoriums Theaters, Gymnasiums or other structures with wide span roofs
and load bearing outside walls, go to the designated protective area--not to
your car. Take cover in small interior rooms like restrooms. Stay away from
windows. If there is no time to go anywhere, take cover against something that
will support or deflect falling debris such as metal partitions, heavy shelves
or counters. In a theater, get under the seats.
In Open Country,
move away from the tornado's path at a right angle. If there is no time to
escape or find a suitable protective area, lie flat in the nearest depression,
such as a ditch or ravine. Do not go to a grove of trees or under a vehicle.
Keep Listening to
radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest weather bulletins.
Watch the Sky.
Tornadoes develop so quickly there may not be time for a warning. During a
Tornado Watch, be alert for the sudden appearance of violent winds, vivid
lightning, rain, hail, or funnel-shaped clouds. Tornadoes are often obscured by
rain, dust, hills, or trees and many occur at night. It is not unusual to have
several tornadoes occurring at the same time in the same area. When
in doubt, take cover.
SUGGESTED TORNADO SAFETY RULES
Before a Tornado
Stay informed: listen to your Weather Alert
Radio; use TV/radio as backups.
Hurricanes do not directly affect Lowndes
County. We feel their indirect affects as thunderstorms, wind, floods, hail,
lightning, and tornadoes. Be alert and cautious when we have hurricanes to hit
the Gulf Coast. It will take a while for the severe weather to get up to us in
Columbus, but the key is being prepared.
Select the best available protective area at
home, work, school, and out of doors; choose the most interior small rooms on
the lowest floor; underground (but not the crawl space) is best. Get under
sturdy furniture and cover up with a blanket, etc. Most injuries are caused by
flying debris; put as many barriers (walls and floors) and padding (blankets,
coat or mattress) as possible between you and the tornado. Crouch down and keep
as low as possible.
During a Tornado Watch
Monitor the situation by tuning your radio or
TV set to one of the local stations and monitor a weather radio.
When a Watch is issued, listen to broadcast
advisories and be ready to take cover. Have a battery powered light and radio
ready and keep family members within earshot. Keep on hand emergency supplies: a
three-day supply of food, water, and other necessities. Keep your car keys on
you; should a tornado strike, your car may still be operable but your keys would
be lost in the rubble.
Be very CAUTIOUS: Tornadoes develop in
thunderstorms. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are frequently issued during Tornado
Watches. Be sure to stay alert.
Be prepared to take cover immediately should a
warning be issued.
Take action immediately when you hear the
tornado warning sirens. They are tested the first Wednesday of the every month
at noon if the weather is good and the sky is clear. If you hear them otherwise,
take immediate action.
Take cover within 60 seconds of a tornado
warning. Sixty-two percent of those killed by tornadoes die in the first five
minutes after a warning is issued.
Get out of cars and mobile homes; take cover
in a ditch if there is no place or no time to go elsewhere. Take cover where you
are out of the wind.
Travel to better protection when the weather
is still good; after severe weather arrives, stay put. Travel to shelter during
a Watch, not a Warning. During the Warning, when wind, flying debris and
lightning abound, you are at greater risk being outside than you are staying
put. If you go elsewhere, go before the threat arrives.
Observe the weather being especially alert to
weather developments to the South and West.
Monitor television and radio to obtain weather
During a Tornado Warning
Take cover immediately where you are.
Do not travel in an automobile. Abandon your
vehicle if you are caught in a violent storm. Do not try to outrun or drive away
from a tornado.
Put into practice your individual or your
employer's severe weather plan.
After a Tornado
Remain in protective area until you are
absolutely certain it is safe to exit. Tornadoes often occur in families
consisting of several tornadoes.
Account for all family members and neighbors.
Do not touch or get near the vicinity of
downed power lines.
Render first aid if you can, stay away from
damaged area, travel only if necessary, use telephones only for emergencies.
Do not light candles or matches until you are
certain that there are no leaking or broken gas lines. If you smell gas, open
windows and doors; turn off the gas at the main service valve on the meter if
you can; leave the building immediately; notify utilities as soon as possible.
If flooding has occurred or electrical wires
and appliances are open to the elements, turn off the main electrical power
circuit breaker. Do not use any electrical appliance until they are dry and have
been inspected for safe operation.
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS
Straight Line Winds (also known as a
microbursts, downbursts, etc.) occur 5 to 8 times more often than tornadoes.
These winds, which come from collapsing thundercells, can have winds up to 100
mph. Year after year, they do more property damage than tornadoes. Be alert:
they often occur without warning and can produce damage similar to that of a
According to the National Weather Service, the
average toll of lightning casualties is around 80 deaths and 500 injuries. In an
average year, lightning will claim more victims than tornadoes or hurricanes.
SUGGESTED LIGHTNING SAFETY
Inside a home, avoid using the telephone,
except for emergencies. Stay away from doors, windows, fireplaces, radiators,
stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and plug-in electrical appliances. Do not use any
electrical appliance like hair dryers, toothbrushes, or shavers during the
If outside, go inside an enclosed building;
the more substantial, the better.
If there is not enough time to reach a safe
building, follow these safety rules:
Do not stand underneath a natural lightning
rod such as a tall, isolated tree or utility pole in an open area.
Avoid projecting above the surrounding
landscape, as you would do if you were standing on a hilltop, in an open field,
by a small shed, on the beach, or fishing from a small boat.
Get out of and away from open water. Leave a
small boat and take cover on land.
Get away from tractors and other metal farm
Get off of and away from motorcycles,
scooters, golf carts and bicycles. Put down golf clubs, baseball bats, tennis
racquets, etc. Wearing cleated shoes makes you a particularly good lightning
Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines,
metal pipes, rails, electric powerlines, and other metallic paths which could
carry lightning to you from some distance away. Stay out of bathtubs and
In a forest, take cover in a low area under a
thick growth of small trees. In open areas, go to a low place such as a ravine
or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
If you are caught outdoors, no cover is nearby
and you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end - indicating lightning
is about to strike - squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Put your
hands on your knees and lower your head. Do not lie flat on the ground. Laying
flat puts your heart and lungs next to the ground; lighting burns to the chest
can fatally damage those vital organs; crouching as described puts a very small
part of your body in contact with the ground. If you are in a group - spread out
and keep several yards apart.
Avoid open areas, tall/isolated objects,
metallic conductors (e.g., phones, plumbing, fences, golf clubs), etc.; DON'T
bunch up and DON'T be the tallest object around.
Cars with all-metal bodies provide good
protection against lightning; avoid convertibles, fiberglass and glass top cars.
The metal skin protects you; glass or cloth do not. Stay inside the car with the
doors and windows shut.
CPR revives most lightning victims who stop
breathing; check all victims, render CPR then call 911. Sometimes lightning
stops a person's heart or breathing even when there is no other fatal injury.
Quick action often revives these victims.
You can touch a lightning victim immediately;
there is no residual charge-you can't be electrocuted (unless he is lying on a
live electric power line).
When a thunderstorm threatens, get inside a
home or large building.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, through its Weather Service River Forecast Centers and River
District Offices, issues flood forecasts and warnings when rainfall is enough to
cause rivers to overflow their banks and when melting snow may combine with
rainfall to produce similar effects.
Flood warnings are
forecasts of impending
floods, and are
distributed to the public by NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television
and through local government emergency agencies. The warning message tells the
expected severity of flooding (minor, moderate, or major), the affected river,
and when and where flooding will begin. Careful preparations and prompt response
will reduce property loss and ensure personal safety.
Flash flood warnings
are the most urgent type of flood warning that is issued. Flash flood warnings
are transmitted to the public over NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or
SUGGESTED FLOOD SAFETY RULES
Before the Flood:
Find out how many feet your property is above
or below possible flood levels so when predicted flood levels are broadcast, you
can determine if you may be flooded. Get flood insurance to protect your
investment, if desired.
Keep a stock of food which requires little
cooking and no refrigeration; electric power may be interrupted.
Keep a portable radio, emergency cooking
equipment, lights and flashlights in working order.
Keep first aid and critical medical supplies
(prescriptions, insulin, etc.) on hand.
Keep your car fueled; if electric power is cut
off, filling stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic
sheeting, and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
When You Receive a Flood Warning
Store drinking water in closed, clean
containers. Water service may be interrupted.
If flooding is likely, and time permits, move
essential items and furniture to upper floors of your house.
If forced or advised to leave your home, move
to a safe area before access is cut off by flood water.
Cut off all electric circuits at the fuse
panel or disconnect switch. If this is not possible, turn off or disconnect all
electrical appliances. Shut off the water service and gas valves in your home.
During the Flood
Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding.
Do not walk into or travel into water of
unknown depth, or that is over your calf or hubcap deep in flooded areas. A 3
mph current can sweep the strongest off of their feet. Water above the floorpan
can make cars buoyant just long enough to float them off the road. Wait for the
water to fall, or find another route.
If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately
and seek higher ground. Many drown while trying to rescue their cars.
In low areas, move quickly to high ground if
heavy rain occurs. Never camp in dry stream beds.
Do not eat/drink contaminated food or drink;
use strict hygiene measures. Diseases, such as typhus and dysentery, are borne
by flood water. Keep immunizations current.
If utilities are covered by flood water, do
not turn them on until everything is dried out and checked.
Be alert for snakes, rats, possums, raccoons,
and other critters taking refuge in your home.
After the Flood
Do not use fresh foods that have come in
contact with flood waters.
Test drinking water for potability; wells
should be pumped out and the water tested before drinking.
Do not visit the disaster area; your presence
will probably hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet
areas; electrical equipment should be checked and dried before returning to
service. Report broken utility lines to Columbus Utilities.
Use flashlights, not lanterns or torches, to
examine buildings; flammable substances may be inside.
Keep tuned to local radio or TV stations for
advice and instructions from your local government on where to go to obtain
necessary medical care in your area; where to go for emergency assistance such
as shelter, housing, clothing, food, etc.; and ways to help yourself and your
community recover from the emergency.
The National Weather Service Office has the responsibility for
informing the public about the hazards of
waves and predicting the period of excessively high temperatures.
The National Weather Service has devised a Heat Index given in
degrees F. The Heat Index is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when
relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. They will begin
computing the Heat Index when temperatures reach 95 degrees F.
The National Weather Service will initiate alert procedures
when the Heat Index is expected to exceed 105 degrees F - 110 degrees F for at
least two consecutive days. The Heat Index will be broadcast over the weather
alert radio during hourly forecasts.
We in Emergency Management Agency have the primary
responsibility for investigating inquiries made to open heat relief centers,
providing heat relief information to the general public and coordinating plans
to open heat relief centers if required.
Elderly persons, small children, invalids, heart patients,
respiratory patients, those on certain medications or drugs, and persons with
weight or alcohol problems are particularly susceptible to heat stress.
SUGGESTED HEAT WAVE SAFETY
During Heat Waves
Slow down. Reduce activity during the heat wave. Strenuous
activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the coolest time of
the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not
Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects
heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods (like proteins) that
increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
Do not dry out. Drink plenty of water while the heat wave
lasts. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, or who are
on fluid restriction, or who have a problem with fluid retention should consult
a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician. Persons
on salt restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their
Avoid over-exposure and thermal shock during the first
critical two or three hot days while you acclimate your body gradually to the
Vary your thermal environment. Try to get out of the
heat for at least a few hours each day. If you can't do this at home drop in to
a cool store, restaurant, or theater to keep your exposure time down.
Cool or at least ventilate your home; avoid enclosed rooms.
Moving air, even if not cooled, helps cool you by evaporating your sweat.
Do not get too much sun. Sunburn hurts the body's ability to
Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine. They interfere with
your body's ability to cool itself.
Care for pets and livestock. Make sure they have food and
plenty of water. They also should have a shady, open place to rest.
SIGNS OF HEAT STRESS
Heat Cramps are defined as muscular
pains and spasms due to heavy exertion that usually occur in the abdomen or
legs. Get the person to a cooler place and lay down in a comfortable position.
Give them a half glass of water (no alcohol or caffeinated drinks) every 15
minutes to drink. Lightly stretch the affected muscle.
Heat exhaustion occurs typically
during heavy exertion in a warm, humid place when body fluids are lost through
heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital
organs to drop. A mild form of shock results. If not treated, the victim's
condition will get worse. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may
suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke (also called Sunstroke) is a threat to life.
The victim's heat control mechanism (which controls sweating) stops working and
the victim's temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may occur
if the body is not cooled quickly. Help is needed fast. Call 911. Move the
person to a cooler place. Act quickly to cool the body by immersing the victim
in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body. Watch for signs of breathing
problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool them any way you can.
Give them a half glass of water (no alcohol or caffeinated drinks) every 15
minutes to drink. Until help arrives, have the victim rest in a comfortable
position and watch carefully for changes in their condition.
WINTER STORMS AND WINTER WEATHER
The National Weather Service Office is
responsible for the timely issuance of
watches and warnings, and other winter related conditions such as traveler's
advisories, and cold wave warnings.
The National Weather Service has specific
terminology and definitions which identify winter conditions we may anticipate
in Mississippi. There are several watches, warnings, and advisories that the
National Weather Service may issue during the winter months as
A Winter Storm Watch - means that
severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, are possible within the
next day or two. Prepare now. These are issued about 24-48 hours in advance -
plenty of time for you to get ready!
A Winter Storm Warning - means that
severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin. Stay indoors.
A Winter Storm Advisory - means that
winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant
inconveniences and may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, it should not be
life threatening. The greatest hazard is often to motorists.
A Cold Wave Warning indicates an
expected rapid fall in temperature within a 24-hour period which will require
substantially increased protection for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and
social activities. Regardless of the month, a cold wave warning is a red flag
alert to the public that during a forthcoming forecast period a change to very
cold weather will require greater than normal protective measures.
Hazardous Driving (Travelers) Advisories are
issued to indicate that falling, blowing or drifting snow, freezing rain or
drizzle, sleet or strong winds will make driving difficult.
An Ice Storm - is freezing rain or
drizzle. Moisture falls in liquid form but freezes upon impact. The term heavy
is used to indicate an ice coating sufficiently heavy to cause significant
damage to trees, overhead wires, and similar objects.
Sleet is easily
identified as frozen rain drops (ice pellets) which bounce when hitting the
ground or other objects. Sleet does not stick to trees and wires but sleet in
sufficient depth does cause hazardous driving conditions.
The Wind Chill Factor is strong winds
combined with low temperatures, causing a very rapid cooling of exposed
surfaces. Unprotected portions of the body, such as the face or hands, can chill
rapidly and should be protected as much as possible from the cold wind. A very
strong wind combined with a temperature slightly below freezing can have the
same chilling effect as a temperature nearly 50 degrees F lower in a calm
atmosphere. Arctic explorers and military experts have developed a term called
the wind chill factor which states the cooling effect of various wind and
temperature combinations. The Weather Service issues this information as the
wind chill index.
GENERAL WINTER STORM INFORMATION
Power outages are typically caused when the
weight of ice forming on power lines pulls lines down and breaks poles. Power
outages can last 1-10 days and typically last 3 days. Compounding the problem is
the fact that roads may be covered by 1-4" of ice at the same time,
severely imperiling all traffic (including Utilities work crews).
Neither local governments nor the Mississippi
National Guard supply generators. Home generators must be purchased &
installed beforehand; if the generator is connected to the home wiring, a
Transfer Box is essential.
Hypothermia threatens the old and very young
more than others. If your house has no heat and you choose to stay, wear several
layers of clothing plus a hat. Eat and drink to fuel your body but avoid
alcohol. Keep dry and warm; stay in bed under blankets.
Elderly people and others with poor
circulation are most susceptible to frostbite. Gently warm exposed skin; do not
rub it with snow, etc.
Local governments do not transport people
during winter storms.
Roads may be closed ONLY by a Mississippi
State Trooper (or officers under their direction) and MUST be barricaded. Other
officials may advise motorists that travel is hazardous or to travel at their
own risk but cannot close roads.
Prepare your car before the storm hits. Check
the anti-freeze protection and fill the fuel tank. On icy roads, drive slowly
and carefully; increase following distance 3 times normal. Use tire chains when
ice covers the roads. Do not let air out of your tires; reduced inflation tires
do not have better traction. Keep a blanket in the car.
No public official can close a business or
excuse an employee. All businesses are encouraged to have a
Storm Plan in place.
SUGGESTED WINTER STORM SAFETY
Before the Storm
Keep ahead of a winter storm by listening to
the latest National Weather Service Warnings and bulletins on radio and
Plan ahead of the storm. During the winter
months, stock up on non-perishable foods that may be served without
refrigeration or heating, in case the power goes out.
During winter months, make sure that you have
at least 10 to 14 additional days worth of medication. Once a winter storm hits,
the possibility of getting additional medication is difficult, and to request
this during hazardous driving conditions puts the person that you ask for
assistance at risk.
Determine if you are going to stay put or if
you will be staying with a friend or relative. Let your friends and/or relatives
know where you are going to be.
Make sure you have an alternate heat source.
Be safe with alternate heating sources. Do not substitute fuels. Make sure wicks
are trimmed and burn blue. Any yellow means Carbon Monoxide. Make sure chimneys
are clean and joints are tight; a chimney fire can cause a house fire. DO NOT
USE CHARCOAL, LP GAS, OR SIMILAR COOKING/HEATING STOVES INDOORS. They create
huge amounts of Carbon Monoxide. Do not use any flame in a room with the windows
shut because Carbon Monoxide will build up. Ventilate the house if you use a
flame or a kerosene heater. Do not let a flame burn while you are asleep.
Install a Carbon Monoxide monitor. Have heating systems and chimneys inspected
annually. Check your supply of heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not be able to
move if a winter storm buries your area in snow or the roads and streets are
covered with ice.
Check battery powered equipment before
the storm arrives. A portable radio or television set may be your only contact
with the outside world during the winter storm. Also check emergency cooking
facilities and flashlights.
Make sure you have a telephone plugged into a
telephone jack. Cordless phones are nice, but do not work when the power is off.
If you must receive medical treatment,
such as dialysis, pre-arrange your transportation. If you live far away from the
treatment center or in the County, get close to the treatment facility. Stay in
a hotel or with a friend. Ask a friend or relative to take you. Or if possible,
call the medical facility office and try to reschedule your appointment for the
next day or later, once it is evident that the roads will be clear.
During Winter Storms
Stay indoors during storms and cold snaps
unless you are in peak physical condition. If you must go out, avoid
overexertion. If you must spend time outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight,
warm clothing in several layers. Outer layers of clothing can be removed to
prevent perspiring and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be lightly woven,
water repellent, and hooded.
Do not kill yourself shoveling snow. It is
extremely hard work for anyone in less than prime physical condition, and can
bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death during and after winter storms.
Stay reasonably warm. During winter storms -
peak utilities usage - set your thermostat to 68 degrees F. If your utilities go
off, wear several layers of clothing plus a hat. Eat and drink to fuel your
body. Do not drink alcohol.
Call your relatives, especially your
out-of-town children. Tell them how you are and where you are. They may worry
about you if they cannot find you. Also, check on your neighbors! See if they
If your power goes out, more than likely,
Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric Power Association already
knows. If you call Columbus Light and Water and Four County Electric Power
Association to report power outages, please do so only once. Multiple
requests do not speed up the process. They work as fast as they can.
If you have a true medical emergency, call
Do not call 911 unless you have a true
emergency. Do not call them for general information such as road closing
information, for transportation, or to ask which stores are opened. Tune into
local television stations or local radio stations for information. The Emergency
Management Agency distributes emergency public information to the media as soon
Do not drive on icy or treacherous roads.
While 4-wheel drive vehicles may enable you to drive in all terrains, our major
concern is your ability to stop! During hazardous or icy driving conditions, our
police officers are terribly overwhelmed, and it may take several hours or more
for them to come to your assistance.
Please do not call public works to clear your
street. They have a specific plan in place for road clearing. They clear roads
around hospitals first, so that emergency medical crews can deliver persons with
life-threatening emergencies, then major roads, and then minor roads.
Lowndes County is subject to
damage. The New Madrid Fault, which runs
from Marked Tree, Arkansas to Cairo, Illinois, is the primary concern. A major
earthquake there is expected to cause minor damage here. No buildings are
expected to collapse but some older or weak buildings could suffer damage.
Chimneys could fall and plaster walls, etc. could crack..
A reliable method to predict earthquakes does
not exist. Normally, the first indication of an earthquake is the ground shaking
or building swaying.
Most casualties and injuries result from being
hit by falling objects and debris from damaged buildings.
SUGGESTED EARTHQUAKE SAFETY
During an Earthquake
Stay inside and take cover under a heavy
table, desk or bench, etc. or in an interior corner of a room. Stay away from
windows and objects that may fall on you.
Do not leave the building until the tremors
stop. Then, exit calmly (never use the elevator.) Gather at the assembly point.
Once outdoors, move away from buildings, trees
and utility poles. Stay in open areas.
If safe to do so, shut off electric, gas and
water service to your house. Be alert for downed live power lines.
Be alert for fire; extinguish fires if
possible. Gather fire extinguishers, water buckets and other fire fighting
equipment. Organize a Fire Watch with your neighbors.
If in a car, stop as quickly as safety permits
and stay in the car. Seek an open space after the shaking stops. Be cautious of
downed power lines.
Be alert for additional shaking and damage
caused by aftershocks that may come hours, days or weeks later.
Energy emergencies may occur for a variety of
reasons, and may affect not only electrical power or natural gas supplies, but
also the oil supply and other fuel shortages.
SUGGESTED TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH ENERGY
There are specific actions that can be taken
during a declared energy shortage or emergency.
- Always keep battery-powered radios, flashlights or lamps
and fuel available.
- Contact the Columbus-Lowndes Emergency Management Agency
for information as to where temporary lodging is located and means of travel
to these locations, if necessary.
- Know how to safely shut down your home if you must
temporarily evacuate during a winter storm or winter energy crisis. To do
- Turn off all water at the entry point to your building.
- Open the lowest tap and all other taps, draining systems
- Drain hot water and all storage tanks after turning off
heating source (electricity or gas).
- Flush all water closets, making sure no water remains in
- If water is supplied by a well, drain pump and any
storage tanks connected with this system.
- Check all containers with liquids that could freeze, such
as humidifiers, air conditioning units, etc.
- Disconnect all electrical appliances and motors and shut
off electrical supply at main fuse box.
- Turn off all gas appliances and shut off gas at main