The Pine Mountain Search and Rescue has some winter storm tips for Letcher County residents.
Winter storms like the one that hit eastern Kentucky on December 18 can be dangerous, but that danger can be reduced to inconvenience with a few simple preparedness steps. Residents should keep the following information in their homes in case another storm system moves into our area.
Remember that during a widespread emergency, help may be slow in coming. Police, fire and rescue workers must concentrate on true emergencies, and limited manpower forces them to evaluate the seriousness of threats to individuals before responding. Lifethreatening emergencies are handled first, followed by medical emergencies.
The elderly, the sick and the very young take precedence when it comes to the delivery of emergency supplies or transport to shelters. During power and/or water outages, emergency services will take those people to shelter or provide assistance. Persons who choose not to evacuate or have other means of transportation are not considered emergencies, however if those persons leave phone numbers with Letcher County Emergency Management, emergency responders will check on them periodically.
To avoid the need to evacuate during a winter storm, every household should keep a cache of emergency supplies on hand including:
• a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil;
• extra blankets or sleeping bags for each person;
• a first-aid kit, including prescription medicines;
• emergency tools, including a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a portable radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries;
• an extra set of car keys and cash;
• special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family member;
• heating fuel; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm;
• emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. with proper ventilation. Learn to use these items properly to avoid fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
• fire extinguisher, smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. Test units regularly to ensure they are working properly, and be sure to learn their proper use.
If you have a generator, do not connect it directly to the house circuit, since such an arrangement can feed electricity back into the grid and injure or kill workers trying to repair lines in your area. Use extension cords to power only necessary appliances and lamps.
If you do need assistance, you can contact the following agencies:
• Emergencies (law enforcement, fire, medical), 911.
• Evacuations or other assistance: Your local fire department; Letcher Fire and Rescue 633-0119, Neon Fire and Rescue 855- 7303, Whitesburg Fire Department 633-2203, Jenkins Fire Department 832-4881, Sandlick Volunteer Fire Department 633- 5551, Colson Volunteer Fire Department 855- 9977, Gordon Volunteer Fire Department (606) 589-6782, Pine Mountain Search and Rescue 633- 0182, Letcher County Emergency Management 633-0182, Letcher County Road Department 633- 7583.
• Electric companies: Kentucky Power 1-800- 572-1113; Cumberland Valley Rural Electric (Cumberland River area only) (606) 589-4421.
• Health questions: Letcher County Health Department 633-2945 or 633-2068; Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital 633-3500.
• Oxygen Supplies: Mountain Medical 632- 3553; Lovejoy Medical (606) 436-2683; Lincare 633-2861; ARH Home Store 633-6227; Medihome Care 633-4800; MCHC 632-2800.
All Letcher County Senior Citizens Centers will generally be activated as emergency shelters, but it may take time to get workers to those centers because of blocked roads and heavy snow. To find out whether the center in your area is open, call Letcher County Emergency Management at 633-0182.