WAYNE COUNTY—With the threat of Hurricane Dorian, gray and looming off the coast of Florida, and the National Weather Service (NWS) prediction in early August of a 45 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) encourages residents to spruce up their readiness as part of National Emergency Preparedness Month.

In line with this year's theme, “Prepared. Not Scared,” the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has enacted the Ready PA 30 Days/30 Ways to be Prepared campaign.

Each week in September, PEMA will release resources centered around a preparedness theme.

Week one, “Ready 101,” will cover preparedness basics.

Week two, “Ready 201,” will discuss advanced topics.

Week three, “Cover Your Assets,” reviews insurance protocols regarding emergency situations.

Week four, “Be Involved,” outlines ways one can make a difference in the community in regards to emergency preparedness.

Those interested can sign up to receive information on the PEMA website: www.ready.pa.gov.

When September ends, PEMA will ask participants to complete a brief survey about what information they found most helpful.

Completion of the survey will award participants a customized Ready PA Team 30 Days/30 Ways certificate and enter them into a random drawing for useful emergency tools such as a wind-up radio, flashlight or phone charger.

Additionally, “Whichever county has the highest percentage of their population sign up for the alerts will get an opportunity to get some free stuff to promote emergency preparedness across the state,” explained Mikki Uzupes, Wayne County Digital Media Specialist.

Encouraging as many individuals as possible to become educated on emergency preparedness, Wayne County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Price stated in a release, “Just as an emergency affects an entire community, the entire community is part of the solution when it comes to preparing for and recovering from an emergency.”

While Dorian's picture is prominent in national weather reports, emergencies of greater local concern are thunderstorms, lightning, flooding, snow storms, ice storms, high winds and tornadoes, Price explained.

Flooding in particular has been a particular challenge for Wayne County the past few years, leading to damaged roads, stormwater pipes and other infrastructure throughout the county.

According to PEMA Director Randy Padfield, some simple preparations include:

• Learning basic first aid and CPR;

• Creating a family emergency plan so loved ones know where to meet and how to get in contact should an emergency occur;

• Gathering an emergency kit containing non perishable food, water, battery- or crank-operated radios and flashlights, extra batteries and other essentials to keep in one's house and car;

• Knowing how to safely turn off the utilities in one's home;

• Ensuring one's insurance policies cover hazards prominent in one's area, including floods;

• Building an emergency fund.

“We tend to think about emergencies as large-scale, catastrophic events that affect a large number of people,” said Padfield in a release. “But you are much more likely to be affected by smaller incidents that can disrupt your daily routine for a shorter period of time, so those are the types of things you need to be thinking about too.”

Since emergencies can occur in an instant and seemingly out of nowhere, having and practicing a plan for any emergency, whether large or small, will make the situation less frightening and easier to handle.

“The more people talk about it, the less frightening those incidents are, because you know what to expect,” said Uzupes. “Just having a plan, helps to take care of some of the fright that comes when the power goes out.”

Uzupes noted residents can also take advantage of the Wayne County 911 Special Needs Project to ensure loved ones with special medical needs or intellectual/developmental disabilities can be accommodated in the event of an emergency.

Those wishing to utilize the service can fill out a special needs project form which will be kept at the Emergency Operations Center in Beach Lake for reference if needed.

“It just allows the first responders coming to your house an opportunity to know what additional dangers or concerns they might have when they get there,” said Uzupes.

More information about the project is available on the Emergency Communications 9-1-1 tab on the county website: (www.waynecountypa.gov).

Looking to encourage residents to participate in preparedness measures, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners proclaimed September to be National Preparedness Month in Wayne County.

“It's always good to be prepared,” said Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith. “It's always the best measure.”

Commissioner Wendell Kay explained emergency management is spread over several layers of response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to PEMA, to Wayne County EMA, to a county-wide Emergency Management Committee, and finally to individual emergency management coordinators (EMCs) in all townships and borough.

“It's a comprehensive approach with multi-layers and hopefully that is sufficient to moderate the influence of any kind of untoward exhibits or untoward activities in our daily lives,” said Kay.

He noted local EMCs and other county EMA structures play a particularly vital role because, “We are told by PEMA, in the event of a large emergency, be prepared at the county level to be on your own for three four days.”

More information about emergency preparedness is available from the PEMA website: www.ready.pa.gov.

More information regarding county emergency operations and other services is available online at: www.waynecountypa.gov.

—Information from a release was used in this story.