Living Columns & Blogs

Tips for staying safe during emergency

Emergency supplies and a radio make for a survival kit that can help see your family through a disaster.
Emergency supplies and a radio make for a survival kit that can help see your family through a disaster. Kansas City Star

By last Friday, Middle Georgia already was impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Two shelters were full to capacity and a third was set to open. Macon-Bibb County showed its true Southern hospitality by opening its doors, hotels and restaurants to evacuees from several counties in Matthew’s path.

We have spent the better part of the week assessing the damage Hurricane Mathew heaped onto the Southeast. The coming months will no doubt be devastating to evacuees as they begin to put the pieces of their lives back together.

I couldn’t help but think, what if I had to evacuate a household of five within a day or two? The likelihood of having to evacuate from Macon-Bibb County is low, but in today’s world, one just never knows. Weather is unpredictable — just think about the Mother’s Day storm in 2008.

As my aunt used to say, “rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

Macon-Bibb County Cooperative Extension offers the following guidelines to for emergency preparedness:

▪ If there is a warning from local officials to evacuate, do so. It could be dangerous for you and for your loved ones to “ride it out.” It could also put emergency personnel in harm’s way should they have to rescue you.

▪ Follow the designated evacuation routes. Detouring from the route could be dangerous as roadways and bridges could be out. There will be traffic, so exercise patience. Allow ample time for evacuation — others will be leaving and following the same routes.

▪ Prepare a “To Go Box” in advance.

Here is a partial list, from our colleagues at Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension, of what should be included in the box:

▪ Cash or traveler’s checks for several days’ living expenses

▪ Doctors and pharmacy information

▪ Financial institutions

▪ Insurance companies (Include your local agent and the company headquarters.)

▪ Credit card companies

Copies of the following:

▪ Homeowners, auto, flood or renter’s insurance policies and policy numbers

▪ Prescriptions for medications and eyeglasses

▪ Health, dental and prescription insurance cards or numbers

▪ Deeds and titles

▪ Estate planning documents (wills, trusts, healthcare directives, power of attorney, etc.)

▪ Home inventory (printed and digital versions)

▪ Passports, drivers licenses and Social Security cards

▪ User names and passwords

For a complete listing, visit:

▪ In the event you have to stay in a shelter, keep in mind that shelters provide shelter only. It’s a good idea to bring with you prescribed medications, bedding (pillows, blankets, sheets and sleeping bags) and extra clothing.

Remember, food and water also will be premium items, so bring some along. Non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods such as canned fruits, veggies and juices, peanut butter and crackers, granola bars and trail mix will travel well. A gallon of water for each person in your group is a good rule of thumb for gauging the amount of water you may need. Increase the amount if you have to make formula for infants.

▪ Don’t forget the chargers! Bring chargers for all electronic devices, including the car charger. We are dependent on our electronic devices, and they can be used to monitor conditions, contact loved ones, for entertainment and to store critical information.

▪ Lastly, stay informed. Use a weather radio, a local weather app or sign up for email notifications to receive current information to monitor the hazardous situation. Remember, part of being prepared is being knowledgeable about what to expect.

The Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency Facebook page is an excellent source for the most current information. Check them out at

Stay safe, Middle Georgia!

Contact county Extension agent Keishon J. Thomas at 478-751-6338 or