One of the first steps in emergency preparedness is knowing there is an emergency. The Capital Area Council of Governments offers emergency alerts through WarnCentralTexas.org. Highland Lakes residents can sign up any number of phones and/or email addresses, and even at different locations, to keep abreast of emergencies. The website also provides links to other emergency preparedness sites such as Ready.go, where people can learn how to get prepared. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
MARBLE FALLS — The value of emergency preparedness hits home during an emergency similar to hurricanes Harvey and Irma. While they didn’t directly impact the Highland Lakes, Marble Falls Fire Rescue Chief Russell Sander hopes people take note of how quickly an emergency — weather or otherwise — can affect a community and get ready ahead of time.
“The time to really get prepared is when there isn’t an emergency,” Sander said.
One of the first steps of emergency preparedness is knowing there is one. Sander recommended that Highland Lakes residents take advantage of the Capital Area Council for Governments’ WarnCentralTexas.org website, which allows people to sign up for emergency notifications.
“We really need people to sign up,” he said. “This is a way for us to get emergency information to them.”
It’s free to sign up, and residents can register as many phone numbers or emails as they want. Plus, people can get emergency notifications by phone, text, email, or all three. Sander pointed out that a person might live in Marble Falls but work in Austin or Cedar Park. With WarnCentralTexas.org, they can sign up for alerts happening at home and their work location.
“And say you have some property in Hays County or somewhere in (the CAPCOG) area, you can sign up, too, so you’ll be alerted if there’s some type of emergency there as well,” Sander said.
While CAPCOG covers 10 counties spread across Central Texas, Sander said people can set up emergency notifications tailored to their specific area. If you live in Burnet County, you won’t necessarily be alerted when something occurs in Bastrop County.
“We can pinpoint the notifications,” he said. “That way, it can be very specific.”
Signing up for emergency notifications is a good first step, but Sander doesn’t want people to stop at that. Next, he advised, is to be prepared. If an emergency strikes your area, it’s a good idea to have a “go kit” with copies of important documents, medication supplies, flashlights, and clothing as well as other basic necessities such as food and water.
“It’s nice to have that ready to go so you can quickly grab it, so you don’t have to worry about gathering all those things and documents up,” Sander said.
He also recommended having supplies stashed away in case the emergency calls for “sheltering in place.” This is when emergency officials recommend people stay at home or where they are until the initial emergency passes. While you might still have all your documents and medications and other “go kit” items ready, Sander said that, in this situation, it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough food and water on hand for at least a few days.
On top of these steps, Sander said people need a plan.
If the emergency requires evacuation, where are you going to go? How are you going to get there? And if you’re family is in different places at the time of an evacuation notice, how will you link up or let everyone know you’re OK.
“It’s good to have a communication plan,” he advised. “One of the best things is to have a family member who lives outside the area that you all call and check in with.”
Along with providing emergency notification signups, WarnCentralTexas.org offers links to other organizations that can help with emergency preparedness and events.
“Ready.gov has a lot of great information about emergency preparedness,” Sander added. “It’s a great place to start.”
But the key, he said, is to get started now when there isn’t an emergency instead of waiting until there is one.
Many municipalities such as the city of Marble Falls (ci.marble-falls.tx.us) offer local alerts pertaining to their communities as well. People can check with their city (often through its website) regarding notifications covering meetings to road closures.