Campus News

Personal readiness plays a big role in emergency situations

Opal Haley

When the topic of emergency preparedness arises, Opal Haley remembers a cartoon of an ostrich with its head in the sand.

It’s tempting to take the ostrich’s approach in the panicked times that often come with an emergency, said Haley, director of UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Like the hiding ostrich, some people may think, “It’s too big, too much,” said Haley. “But the basic premise is to make a plan, and assemble a (survival) kit. . . Just having a plan and a kit puts you so far ahead in terms of recovery and getting back on your feet.”

September is National Preparedness Month, an effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to encourage Americans in taking simple steps to prepare for emergencies at home, work or school.

A little bit of planning not only goes a long way in taking the stress and worry out of an emergency situation, said Haley-it’s also a necessity when emergency responders are limited. For the second year, UGA is a National Preparedness Month coalition member and will be offering information to help prepare individuals for any emergency.

Keynote speaker Dr. Anne Schuchat will present “Pandemic Influenza: Perspectives from the CDC” at 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at the Chapel. Schuchat, who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School, is captain of the U.S. Public Health Service and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

UGA will offer an informational emergency preparedness showcase at the Tate Student Center plaza on Sept. 26, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event will feature giveaways and prize drawings, including one for a portable, wind-up Éton FR400 emergency radio, which also comes with a cell phone battery recharger. The showcase is open to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

Community organizations that will be present with information and volunteer opportunities are the Athens-Clarke County Community Emergency Response Team, the East Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross, the Northeast Georgia Public Health District’s Medical Reserve Corps and area members of the Amateur Emergency Radio Service. Participating UGA organizations include the police department, the Enterprise Information Technology Services’ Office of Information Security, the Environmental Safety Division’s fire safety program and Hazard Assessment Response Team, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the Center for Mass Destruction Defense.

In addition, emergency vehicles from Athens-Clarke County and UGA will be on display in the turnaround area near the Student Learning Center.

“It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about the big picture, and how many issues there are for them to consider,” Haley said.

Grab-and-go kits

Besides knowing CPR and first aid, what kind of threats your area is likely to face and when to take shelter or evacuate, be sure to discuss emergency plans and evacuation routes with your family. Every family should have a communication plan and an out-of-state contact person to call in case local loved ones are unreachable by phone.

An emergency kit is an invaluable tool. The emergency preparedness office has created model Grab-and-Go backpacks, which will be on display during the National Preparedness Month showcase at the Tate Student Center.

Consider making two kits: one suitable to help you survive where you are, and one you could take if you need to evacuate. Grab-and-Go bag contents should include enough items to sustain you, your family and your pets for 72 hours.

UGA’s preparedness office recommends including:

  • Food and bottled water 
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket(s) 
  • Battery-powered or crank radio (newer models include cell phone chargers)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Dust or filter masks
  • Manual can opener
  • Prescription medicines
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties
  • Sanitation needs, including moist towelettes
  • Multi tool, and wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Mess and utensil kits
  • Two safety light sticks
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Change of clothing and comfortable shoes
  • Cash
  • Local and campus maps