Emergency Preparedness

Across the country, people are stocking up on things they hope will save their lives in the event of a chemical or biological attack. Hardware stores in big cities like Washington, DC, say there's not a roll of duct tape to be found. Officials have said the tape could be used to help seal a house during a chemical attack. Folks are also buying up essential supplies like food, water, batteries and flashlights.

So what should you be doing to keep your family safe? WTOC spoke with emergency officials in Chatham County, and they say we need to do three things: be aware of the warnings, take steps to protect our families, and don't panic.

People in Savannah are not letting the threat of terrorism interfere with their lives.

"In Savannah, Georgia? I don't think so," said local resident Sue Herman

"What I'm doing, basically, is praying and letting God have control of whatever the situation is," added Pam Oglesby.

Fellow resident Tom Mahoney told us, "I'm not taking any additional steps. Just being precautious. Keeping your eyes open. Like the President said, 'Go about your normal daily business.'"

Going about your daily business is exactly what emergency officials say we should be doing as well.

"We're on the verge of being paranoid," said Phillip Webber, director of Chatham Emergency Management. "We're overreacting and we need to just take a deep breath."

Webber says while we shouldn't panic, we should have a plan.

"You need to be able to feed yourself, have light, first aid kits, and you need to have a communications plan," he said.

He says don't be too concerned with covering your windows with duct tape.

"I don't think if the outside environment is hazardous, people should be spending extended periods of time six inches away from an outside window trying to tape it up," Webber said. "If you can close the window and get some distance from it, that's a better move."

And don't feel pressured to buy a high-priced gas mask or haz-mat suit.

"Haz-mat suits are for professional responders. That's who they're for. They're not for average citizens to have hanging in the closet. There's no need for it," said Webber.

Emergency officials say here's what you should have in your disaster kit:

  • A 3-day supply of nonperishable food and water for each member of your family.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A flashlight.
  • A battery-powered radio or TV.
  • Extra batteries.

Also, be aware of your surroundings and set up a meeting place, in case your family gets separated.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com