Venango emergency director offers tips in event of a disaster here
The Derrick, 10/12/01, By LESLIE LAUER

A special thank you goes out to The Derrick for allowing this story to be posted


With information that more terrorist attacks against the United States could happen within the next several days, Americans have been asked to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. 

"If you see something you don't understand or that you can't explain, contact authorities," Venango County Emergency Management Director Dick Graff said Thursday evening. 
People may have gotten back to their way of life a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, but they should remain cautious, Graff said. 

Following days of U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan, the FBI warned the nation Thursday it has received information additional terrorist attacks in the U.S. or abroad are possible, but no target has been identified. 

Such a warning should be heeded with utmost seriousness everywhere, including this area, Graff said. 

"I think we've learned our lesson that it can happen, and we cannot have the attitude that it's not going to happen in this county," he said. 

The emergency management center has been receiving more calls and has been checking every one that comes in, Graff said. "I'd rather flaw on the side of being safe than flaw on the side of being sorry," he said. In addition to being on the highest state of alert, people should plan what to do should a disaster occur. 

The first thing to do in a disaster is to stay calm and turn on a television or radio in order to listen for further instructions or for the go-ahead to resume normal activity. 
Telephone lines should remain open during an emergency, and vehicles should be kept off roads. 

Provisions such as food, water, battery-operated radios and flashlights, and sleeping bags should be gathered in preparation for a disaster, Graff said. These provisions, along with a medical kit including medications, should be kept together in a place where they can be easily accessed and carried away if necessary. 

In the event of a shelter-in-place emergency, in which residents are told to stay inside, occupants should stay on above-ground floors. "Don't go into the basement," Graff said. Any vents to outside air such as air conditioning vents should be tightly secured. 

Graff said shelter-in-place responses could last a couple of hours, but people should prepare for three days. 

In the event people must be evacuated from their homes, there should be a plan already established in order to communicate with relatives. One person should be designated as a contact person to account for the safety and whereabouts of family members.