The ability to describe and forecast the weather may have changed as we forge into the future, but the facts remain. It is cold! And as we in Bradley County and the surrounding areas prepare and continue to function as a community, it is important to remember a “Baker’s Dozen” ideas to keep us all safe:
1. Take personal responsibility to protect yourself and your loved ones. It is impossible to help others when you are sick, injured or hurt. Limit exposure to the extreme cold temperatures, if possible. And if you have to be outside in the elements, please dress appropriately and remain hydrated with ample amounts of water.
2. Make it a point to personally check on family members, neighbors and those you know who may have limited ability or resources to help themselves remain warm. Protection from the elements is mandatory and if they are unable to help themselves, please help them yourself or contact the numerous agencies in our area that are able to help.
3. Animals that are to remain outside, from livestock to pets, need to have adequate protection from the elements as well.
4. Be proactive in having needed supplies and alternate forms of heat available as well as the contact information to reach your utility provider before there is a need.
5. If using alternate forms of heat, always follow standard safety protocol with regard to exhaust fumes, proper storage of fuel and placement of space heaters at least three feet away from anything even remotely flammable. Do not use extension cords to plug in electrical heaters, and routinely check electrical cords and outlets for damage. If damage is found, please have it professionally repaired or replaced if possible.
6. Have a plan, before needed, to have at least two ways to get out of your home in case of a fire. Practice this plan with your family and have a designated place to meet far from the building. Make sure all know how important this is to family safety.
7. Make sure your home address is visible from the road and easily identifiable for all emergency personnel. We have the best in our community working to keep us all safe. Their constant training is limited in use when they have a difficult time locating an address, through no fault of their own. “Put yourself in their shoes” and try to find an address that you may not know already. Now add the adrenaline of knowing that seconds truly can make a difference in saving lives and then try to find a house or apartment from the road with no sign of an address visible. Let us all help them, and please tell them they are appreciated.
8. Have a plan for communicating with family or loved ones if separated by a weather event or other emergency need. Practice to make sure your plan works and that all understand when and how to use this to communicate with each other.
9. Have supplies for emergency use such as water, food that is edible without refrigeration and ways to keep warm. Have these ready and available at your home and also your form of transportation, if possible.
10. Have your automobile serviced regularly. Make sure your antifreeze protection is adequate and that your tires are at the proper tire pressure and tread depth. And when in doubt about the safety of roads, please stay home, if possible. Remember, you may be the safest driver possible but we all share the road with those who are not so safety conscious.
11. After the cold passes and the weather permits, please take the time to open the windows and “air out” your home. Newer construction practices have made our homes more energy efficient. While this is good, it is also important to remember that there is very little chance for any impurities to exit homes on their own. And if you are prone to use strong chemicals to clean surfaces, clothes and even drains, these may emit particles and fumes that you will breathe. Opening your home on occasion helps to limit the risk of allergens or even toxic fumes building up over time.
12. We are also in the EPA Radon risk area. Bradley County is a “Zone One” area that makes us at the highest ranking level for radon exposure. To determine a radon level, five factors are used to determine a potential for risk. Know your home’s risk and plan accordingly. The five factors are: a) indoor Radon measurements (from a kit purchased to evaluate level); b) geology; c) aerial radioactivity; d) soil permeability; and e) foundation type.
13. Remember that we are “all in this together.”
I want to say “thank you” to each and every citizen of this amazingly great community. While disaster has struck here and will again, we have a community that is resilient and resourceful. From the Blizzard of ’93 and the tornadoes of 2011 and 2012, we have proven that we are there for each other and that we are thinking about, and are in the process of rebuilding, while most other communities are still assessing damages.
This does not happen by chance. It takes dedicated and professional personnel at many agencies. It also takes places of worship that are always ready to lend a helping hand and prayer. And finally, it takes an excellent group of residents that call Bradley County, Cleveland & Charleston their home.
Thank you for the honor of being your Bradley County mayor, and be safe!