Dear York County Resident:
As world events are unfolding and the Homeland Security Advisory System Alert Level was moved up one level to ORANGE last week, we have had a number of calls from concerned citizens. First, we want reassure York County residents that we, the Department of Fire and Life Safety and the Sheriff�s Department along, with other county departments, are monitoring events just as we do in other kinds of emergencies.
Residents may recall how we react to the potential threat of hurricanes. We start monitoring a storm system when the whole east coast of the United States is the potential victim. Emergency management up and down the coastline starts urging people to complete their family emergency plans even though it is not known if the storm will ever reach the coast, let alone York County. This situation is very similar in that regard and the family preparedness is very similar.
Terrorism is a very threatening and fearful weapon. However, some very basic family emergency planning may help you feel a little more at ease and that you�re prepared for any kind of emergency. Here�s some basic things you can do:
� Buy a battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
� Keep flashlights with extra batteries in your car, by your bedside, in your kitchen, and in the garage.
� Establish a communication plan for your family. Ask an out-of-town friend to be your contact for your family. Provide all family members with the telephone number. Each day family members should talk about schedules and where people can be located in case of an emergency.
� Establish a family meeting area near your home.
� Coordinate with neighbors, friends or family to pick up children at school or the bus stop should you be delayed.
� Ensure the school has the proper paperwork to release your child to the person you designate.
� Keep bottled water, extra supplies of medications, glasses, baby supplies (diapers), and canned goods. Don�t forget pets! Keep extra food and supplies for them.
� Designate a �safe room� in your house and make sure everyone in the family is aware. This room should be an interior one on first floor. In cases of a chemical release, there are recommendations to seal the door, outlets, and window (if one) with plastic and duct tape. You will be advised over the battery-powered radio when you should �Shelter in Place.� You will be advised when it is safe to leave the room. REMEMBER to turn off your ventilation systems and to take your radio and pets with you into the �safe room.�
� Keep all your important papers (insurance, mortgage, birth certificates, etc.) in a sturdy, waterproof container and take it with you should you have to evacuate. Keep a couple days of cash in a safe place in your home.
� Keep your car in good working condition and a full tank of fuel. If an evacuation is ordered, the county will open shelters. The primary shelter for York County is Grafton School Complex, but wait for an announcement that we are opening shelters. It is important to listen to instructions on the radio. We may have to open other facilities depending on the hazard and the area at risk.
� If an incident occurs, monitor radio and TV, remain calm, and follow public safety messages for protective actions.
This is very basic preparedness information. We have the following Internet links where more detailed emergency preparedness information is available to help you. Our staff is available to answer questions during normal business hours (8:15 AM � 5 P.M.), Monday through Friday, at 890-3600. For life-threatening emergencies call 9-1-1
Links to Terrorism Preparedness Guides
Stephen P. Kopczynski, Fire Chief
Coordinator of Emergency Management