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Red Cross teaches disaster preparedness

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SHERRY LONG
The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE - About 40 Waxahachie citizens learned how to prepare for the worst should a natural disaster or terrorist attack hit their area Friday, Feb. 21.

Waxahachie's Senior Citizens Center hosted an American Red Cross forum, 'Preparing for the Unexpected,' asking citizens, 'What would you do if a tornado hit the area? Do you have a family meeting place in the event of an emergency?'

Blaine Miller, a trained Red Cross volunteer and presenter, stressed the need to be prepared and not to panic in the event of an emergency, whether it be a natural disaster or terrorist-related incident.

It is not necessary to cover the entire home in plastic to protect a person from bio-terrorist and chemical threats, according to Miller.

The Red Cross recommends picking a room in your home with no windows, such as a hallway or closet and with heavy duty plastic and duct tape to seal cracks and vents to prevent chemicals from seeping into your 'shelter in place.'

A shelter room will keep people safe, while

the airborne chemicals dissipate throughout the air. Safe rooms are only good for a few hours. They are not designed for long term stays. 'You would use up all your air within a few hours,' said Miller.

Cell phones with no service will still ring through to 9-1-1 in case of an emergency, according to Waxahachie Officer Clayton.

Waxahachie Fire Inspector Dennis Crecelius recommended having fire extinguishers inspected at least once a year to keep the powder from building up inside the unit, thus keeping it working.

The American Red Cross encouraged families to establish an emergency communications plan, a meeting place and assemble a disaster supply kit. 'Don't buy $2000-3000 of stuff you do not need (for the supply kit), use things you have in your home,' Miller said.

Senior Citizens Center Director Sandie Sykes gave the Red Cross permission to present the program to remedy fears that people may be having on what may be going on the world.

How to control bleeding, treat burns, make a first aid kit and establishing a communication plan for families to meet following a disaster was just some of the information Miller covered.

Waxahachie resident Norma Terry said the class was very informative. 'It's good to know what to do if there is an emergency.'

If a disaster strikes, Waxahachie's Emergency Management will call in the Red Cross to set up medical care units, overnight shelters and feeding stations to assist displaced members of the community.

Fire Marshall and Emergency Management Director Larry Bright said people should go by Red Cross recommendations because their information comes from the federal government.

Waxahachie has 10 outdoor sirens within the city limits to alert people of dangerous weather conditions.

According to Bright, most people will not be able to hear the sirens in the comfort of their homes, unless they live near an outdoor siren. The city conducts monthly tests of the sirens at 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

Red Cross officials urged everyone to have battery-operated flashlights, radios or a small portable TV to stay alert to updates concerning bad weather or terrorist attacks when electrical or energy systems go down.

Ellis, Raines, Kaufman, Van Zandt and Rockwall counties are assisted through the Red Cross' Terrell office. People can become certified in a first aid course available through the Red Cross and renewable every three years. To inquire about a presentation or first aid course for your organization or club, contact the Red Cross at 972-563-1030.

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