BURLESON — The Texas Cooperative Extension Program Council celebrated its volunteer work in 2005 with a catered dinner Thursday at the United Cooperative Services center in Burleson.

Fire Marshal Stacy Singleton, Burleson’s emergency management coordinator, was slated to present a program titled “Will you be ready if disaster strikes?” but his father was hospitalized late in the afternoon. Burleson Police Chief Tom Cowan, a former Keller emergency coordinator, gave Singleton’s presentation on short notice.

In light of the events of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many people realized they needed to plan in case something similar occurred in their area. Floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tornados are all natural disasters that occur in Texas yearly.

“We want to help begin getting the message out of how to prepare residents of Johnson County for disasters,” Texas Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences agent Brooke Davenport said.

Davenport began by informing extension volunteers with a visual presentation titled “Preparing for the unexpected.” She presented tips for families, suggesting that they plan escape routes, assemble emergency supply kits and keep important documents in water- and fireproof containers. Davenport said families should make kits with enough water for three days; a food kit with protein or fruit bars, canned foods, disposable utensils and a hand-operated can opener; extra clothing and blankets; and first-aid kits with gloves, gauze, soap, ointments, prescription medication and other medicines.

“Everybody’s supply kit is going to be a little bit different because it’s based on the need of your family,” Davenport said.

She recommended that families sit together and plan their own lists.

“It’s a good time for your family to get together and bond,” she said. “If you encourage your children to participate, then the whole process [in a disaster] will be a lot less scary.”

Davenport also addressed pet safety during a disaster.

Agriculture agent Chris Schneider continued the presentation and addressed issues of food safety, water safety and ways to prepare a farmstead in case of a disaster. He recommended that livestock owners keep an up-to-date inventory of their livestock and supplies for insurance purposes.

Schneider also gave tips on ways to prepare for livestock evacuation by stating that farmers should establish escape routes for livestock in case of flooding or fire. Farmers should have a plan for providing animals with food and water after they are relocated.

After the presentation by Davenport and Schneider, Cowan gave another presentation expanding on ways to prepare for disasters. Cowan discussed some of his experiences working in emergency situations and then shared Singleton’s computer presentation. His main suggestion was to plan ahead and then to be ready for anything.

“The best time to help is before the disaster, and you help by doing all the things we’ve talked about — planning your escape routes, learning how to evacuate,” Cowan said. “When you have a pre-plan, it makes things a lot smoother for the government officials. They’re able to move you out faster.”

Cowan also recommended people listen to the radio or watch television in times of disaster to find out what officials are recommending people to do.

After Cowan’s presentation, Davenport and Schneider reviewed accomplishments of 2005 and gave a brief overview of 2006 events.

The meeting concluded with the nomination and re-election of Cowan as chairman of the executive board of the extension program council.

Allison Davis can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2338, or at features@trcle.com

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