In an emergency, be self-sufficient

by Susan O’Neill
The village of Sugar Grove has a plan to protect its citizens from tornadoes and other emergency situations.

But Sugar Grove resident Michael Fagel, who has more than 30 years experience in public safety, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire rescue and emergency management and helped create the plan, said people need to be responsible for their own actions first in a disaster.

“People can’t depend on the government in the time immediately following a disaster,” Fagel said. “They need to be prepared to handle emergency situations in their homes.”

Tornado season began in March and officially runs through July. But Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer said they can and do happen during any month of the year. Both Sauer and Fagel said that each household should have its own weather radio.

“If a tornado is sighted in the area, the emergency sirens are activated,” Sauer said. “But outdoor sirens are for people who are outside. You can’t hear it in your house.”

Sauer said the first thing an individual or family should do in the case of a tornado is to seek shelter.

“If they are already inside, they should go to the lowest level of the structure they’re in,” he said.

Family members should also have a plan for how they will contact each other during an emergency, Fagel said.

“Cell phones will collapse in a disaster,” he said. “If 30 people are in the same parking lot, 28 people will get a busy signal.”

Other preparations an individual or family can make ahead of time include answering the question, “If you had five minutes to leave your house, what would you need to be resilient and pick up the pieces?” said Fagel.

After spending time helping out in other locations during disasters, Fagel said he would be gratified to offer his assistance should it ever be needed in Sugar Grove.

“My goal is to make people as safe and informed as possible,” he said.