HINTON, WV (WVNS) — September marks National Preparedness Month.
The goal of the month is to raise awareness about emergency plans and make sure residents and local officials are prepared for any emergency. Part of National Preparedness Month includes local officials knowing their emergency plans and evacuation protocol.
“Shelters in Southern West Virginia in big cities, shelters do get used. The rural counties, shelters can be opened, but the actual population using them tends to be very very small,” said Steve Lipscumb, Director of the Summers County 911 Center.
If there is a situation where county officials would need to facilitate a large scale evacuation, Lipscumb said they will use schools and buildings with large spaces, but they have to meet certain criteria.
“Most buildings anywhere don’t really work well for shelters, handicap accessible, restroom facilities for multiple people, a bigger area that you can set up cots and things like that in,” said Lipscumb.
Health and emergency protocols have changed generally because of the pandemic. For evacuations, Lipscumb said they would open more shelters to allow for less people in each building. They would also follow state health guidelines and hand out sanitary supplies and masks.
“We would still want to reduce the population of the shelters, not have the cots as close together, increase the spacing and that would necessitate more shelters to accommodate the same number of people,” said Lipscumb.
Regardless of the situation at hand, emergency officials say it is crucial to have an evacuation plan with someone you know outside your residential area and a bag ready to go with medicine, a change of clothes, and supplies you can grab at any time.
“It comes time to evacuate all you have to do is pick up the bare essentials, the medicine bottles that you’re taking now things like that, drop them in the bag and go,” said Lipscumb.