Emergency Broadcast Stations
The Emergency Broadcast System, known as EBS, is a network of commercial radio and television stations that have agreed to broadcast emergency announcements in case of an emergency or disaster. These announcements keep you aware as to the nature and immediacy of the emergency as well as providing instructions regarding evacuation routes, shelter locations, and the like. The majority of area television and radio stations participate in EBS.
The National Weather Service in the Florence area operates a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio station, known as NOAA (pronounced "Noah"). The station is located on a frequency of 162.550 megahertz, or you can purchase a special weather radio with this frequency already programmed into it. The NOAA weather radios are a great way to receive both daily and emergency weather watches and warnings.
Emergency Planning Checklist
When disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Citizens need to prepare before there is an emergency to insure safety. The Florence County Emergency Preparedness Department knows what disasters are most common in the area and how to prepare for them. They offer free brochures that have comprehensive information about disaster situations. The office is located at 6719 Friendfield Road, Effingham. For more information, call them at 843-665-7255.
The City of Florence Emergency Disaster Preparedness Office has prepared a checklist for you to use as a first step for identifying the information you will need to be prepared. Discuss these items with your family, then prepare emergency plans for each situation. Post the plan where everyone will see it like the refrigerator or bulletin board.
- Learn about and discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies. Explain how to respond and stay safe during an emergency situation.
- Find out how you would be warned of an emergency when it occurs. Instruct household members to turn on the radio to emergency stations for information.
- Plan escape routes from your home and set up meeting places outside. Know local evacuation routes and proper evacuation procedures in case you must leave town.
- Protect your home and property against damaging weather conditions.
- Show responsible family members how to turn off the main water, gas, and electrical switches.
- Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones. Choose one out-of-state and one local contact for family members to call if separated during a disaster (it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the affected area). Teach children how and when to call these numbers.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit that includes a battery-power radio, flashlight, family records and valuables, food, water, and clothing.
- Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
- Make arrangements for your pets. Pets are not allowed in public shelters.
- Talk with employers and school officials about their emergency response plans.
Additionally, if you are or live with elderly or disabled persons, also consider the following steps:
- Register with the Florence County Emergency Preparedness Department for special needs assistance. Also, find out about any special assistance that may be available in your community.
- Create a network of neighbors, relatives, and friends to aid you in an emergency. Discuss with them your needs and make sure they know how to operate any necessary equipment.
- If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you evacuate the building.
- Keep extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, etc. available. Also, keep a list of the type and serial numbers of medical devices you need.
In extreme emergencies, Florence County may advise you by means of emergency broadcast radio or television to evacuate your home and seek shelter. When this happens, your first choice for shelter should always be a friend or relative's house in a safe area. When conditions prevent this, you should try to take refuge in a public disaster shelter operated by emergency management agencies. Florence County has designated a number of County buildings and schools as possible public shelters. The exact number and location of shelters opened will be determined based upon the emergency. Listen for local radio and television announcements on shelter locations and opening time. Do not go to a shelter before it is open.
Public shelters are little more than basic survival facilities, so when going to a shelter be prepared to bear the inconveniences of shelter life and to cooperate with officials to get you and your family through the storm. When preparing to live in a shelter, consider the following:
- Bring a Disaster Supply Kit, which includes water and canned food, a change of clothing, bedding materials, medication and first aid supplies, battery-powered radio and flashlight, toiletries, and personal identification. None of these amenities are guaranteed to be available in public shelters.
- No smoking, alcohol, weapons, or disruptive behavior are allowed in the shelter.
- Work with shelter officials to maintain a 24-hour communications and safety watch. Take turns listening for radio broadcasts and watching for dangers that could threaten the shelter.
- If necessary, improvise an emergency toilet using a garbage container, pail, or bucket with a snug-fitting cover. If the container is small, use a larger container with a cover for waste disposal. Line the containers with plastic bags. After each use, add a small amount of regular household disinfectant, such as chlorine bleach, to the container to reduce odors and germs.
- Make arrangements for your pets before going to a public shelter. Due to health reasons, pets are not allowed in public shelters.
Work with shelter officials and the others staying in the shelter. Living with many people in a confined space for a period anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks can be difficult, but with cooperation comes survival. Always stay in your shelter until local authorities say it's okay to leave. For more information on emergency procedures, please call the Florence County Emergency Preparedness Department at 843-665-7255.