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Readiness begins at home

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Editorial: Nov. 8, 2012

ISSUE: When an emergency occurs
OUR VIEW: Be sure your family is ready

The train derailment in southwest Jefferson County reminds us just how vulnerable our communities can be. Coming as it did while news reports relayed the natural disaster delivered by Hurricane Sandy, it’s a shocking two-pronged reminder.

Have we remembered the lessons of the 2009 ice storm that devastated much of Kentucky?

Emergency management teams regularly conduct drills to test themselves against an inevitable disaster. Rescue units study the latest techniques and purchase life-saving equipment while hoping never to need it. The American Red Cross constantly responds with critical supplies to meet very human needs we typically take for granted.

But the ice storm taught us all emergency preparedness should begin at home.

Ask yourself these questions: When is the last time your family conducted an emergency drill? Do you have working flashlights and a battery-powered radio handy if needed? Do you have enough food and water available to survive three days? How would you purchase supplies if a disaster knocked out electricity, eliminated access to ATMs or credit card readers?

Train tracks pass through most every corner of Hardin County. Each day, hundreds of non-descript rail cars lumber through carrying unknown dangers by the gallon.

The problems were inconveniences for residents living near West Point and adjacent areas. It created a mild hardship for daily commuters trying to find their way to and from Fort Knox. But for a trio of workers at the cleanup site, it equated to second- and third-degree burns.

It could have been much, much worse.

Chemical dangers also extend to our neighborhoods. Tractor trailers delivering vital supplies to local plants often carry similar threats. A slick road, an ill-timed turn or one reckless motorist could create a similar emergency on a local parkway or community street.

And of course, we are all too familiar with volatile weather. Tornadoes, flash floods, snow and ice are just some of the sudden assaults that can rob residents of electricity and critical access to life-sustaining utility and water service.

Is your family prepared? Here’s are highlights of an American Red Cross checklist:

Plan and practice the best escape routes from your home.

Plan for transportation if you need to evacuate to a shelter.

Assemble disaster supplies in advance including three days water supply for each person in your home.

Keep fresh batteries in flashlights and an emergency radio.

Arrange for someone to check on you.

Post emergency phone numbers near the phone.

Have necessary medical supplies on hand, including extra eyeglasses.

Keep a list of doctors’ information, medical insurance information or Medicare cards ready.

Don’t be a victim. Take action now. If you wait for an emergency, it’s too late.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.