Prepare for your next natural disaster

The strong winds that recently swept across several counties in Eastern Ohio left thousands of local residents without power for days, forcing many people unbelievable scare and inconvenience.

Although those fierce winds came from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, spending days without power was something these Ohioans probably did not anticipate.

And while news stations and weather channels warn us with strong wind advisories, emergency weather situations tend to hit us when we least expect it.

Unfortunately, as unpredictable as mother nature is, the possibility of a wind storm happening again is quite good.

American Electric Power’s (AEP) Web site said that when there is an outage, ensure your safety, as well as the safety of others, by turning off all lights and appliances to prevent circuit overload, do not approach standing water near any electrical wiring, in case of electrical shock, and check all household breakers to conclude whether the outage is, in fact, due to weather.

Also according to the Web site, operating heaters or lanterns without proper ventilation and burning charcoal indoors is off limits, as is allowing children to carry candles or oil lamps during the outage.

Lastly, AEP suggests preparing an emergency kit filled with flashlights, batteries, battery powered radios, candles, matches, drinking water, portable heaters, sleeping bags, canned goods, and manufacturers’ instructions for opening power operated doors.

If the power outage lasts for days, or even weeks, it is crucial to be informed on everything from home insurance to food safety.

According to the state of Ohio’s Emergency Operations Center’s news release, foods stored in the refrigerator will keep for two to four hours while foods stored in the freezer can be considered safe for 24 to 48 hours. For outages lasting days or more, store cold foods in a cooler with ice.

If there is noticeable damage done to your home, the news release states to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. It is wise to not touch or move anything that has fallen on or damaged your property, and taking photographs may also be a smart move.

Wind storms can be extremely scary, but taking the necessary precautions and being prepared will help you and your family in the long run.

Matz may be reached at