Don't let the next hurricane catch you unprepared
The occasional severe thunderstorms that hit the Richmond metropolitan area from time to time serve as a reminder that it's a good idea to be prepared in advance to deal with high winds, heavy rainfall, power outages and other challenges - and these storms are mere puffs of wind compared to a hurricane.
To help the public deal with hurricanes and other significant crises, Chesterfield County inaugurated a new radio system at 1630 on the AM dial in August 2007. The public information and education radio system consists of a control unit located in the county's Emergency Operations Center and seven transmitters located around the county. The system is designed primarily for motorists, but some county residents living in close proximity to the transmitters also can receive the signal in their homes.
Most of the time, the 1630 AM station will have information about routine matters such as county hours of operation, useful telephone numbers, event information and other facts. When county information is not being broadcast, the system automatically switches to weather reports from the National Weather Service office, based in Wakefield, thereby providing minute-by-minute weather status.
When the county's Emergency Operations Center is activated to deal with a crisis situation, the county will have the capability to make live or recorded announcements about road conditions, shelters, the availability of drinking water, expert advice on a wide range of public-safety and health matters and much more.
The county's leaders recognize that the 1630 AM signal will not be a single solution to answering the need for communications, and will continue to work with mainstream media, as always, to keep the public informed.
To protect yourself and your family:
- Always have a battery-operated radio and spare batteries on hand, or one that can be operated by solar power or be cranked to power the radio.
- Clean your roof's gutters now so that heavy rainfall during a hurricane will have clear drainage paths.
- Designate a "safe space" in your home, away from windows and the possibility of flying debris. Basements, interior rooms and hallways without windows are good choices.
- Stock up on bottled water (note the expiration date).
- Have flashlights and batteries available. Light sticks also are safer than candles.
- Be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours, including water, food, medicines, diapers and other items your family might need.
- A free booklet offering Emergency preparedness tips is available at all Chesterfield County libraries.