Assemble essential supplies for any emergency, disaster official says.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Rather than focusing on duct tape and plastic sheeting, the public needs to take a much broader view of emergency preparedness, according to one local emergency management official.
"Before you go out and buy duct tape and plastic sheeting, make sure that you have all the other necessary tools and supplies for a major emergency," advised Walter Duzzny, Mahoning County emergency management director.
"The threats go beyond the terrorism scenarios. We're talking about natural or technological emergencies," and disease epidemics, he said. Natural emergencies include tornadoes, blizzards, floods and windstorms. Technological emergencies include chemical spills, explosions and terrorism.
In an emergency, people need to be equipped to stay home or to relocate to a shelter, depending on what the authorities advise. Each person should have a "go-bag" of essential items ready for a stay of at least 72 hours in a public shelter if authorities call for an evacuation. In case of an evacuation, pets must be left at home because they won't be admitted to shelters, he said.
Duct tape and plastic sheeting can be useful in sealing windows broken in a storm, but using these products to completely seal a room in case of a poison gas attack would be a last resort, Duzzny said. Nobody should seal off a room unless authorities recommend it, and for authorities to recommend such action, "The threat would have to be very credible," Duzzny said.
Sealing off a room could keep out toxic chemicals, but that would require sealing not only doors and windows, but also heating vents and cold air returns, Duzzny said. The user of the room would have to be sure it's stocked with emergency supplies, and would have to be concerned about suffocation due to lack of fresh air after prolonged use, Duzzny said.