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Grayson Emergency Management issues severe weather tips

By Roger & Joanne Dunfee

for Carter County Times

Severe Weather

Throughout each year Carter Countians are made aware of severe weather which can cause extreme damage and create hardships. Severe weather is the most dangerous and common threats that Kentuckians in any county can face on a daily basis. Often severe weather can cause serious injuries and loss of life; tragically, some of which may have been prevented. 

Weather-related threats in Carter County occur throughout the year from flooding, flash floods, straight line winds, lightning, extreme heat, winters storms, and possibly tornado watches or shelter-in-place. Every household should be prepared to face these challenges. 

“City of Grayson” EM encourages everyone to “Be Aware, Be Prepared, and Have a Plan.”

Weather Emergency Alerts (WEA)

When emergencies strike, EM (emergency management) uses timely and reliable systems to alert you. Theses are short messages authorized by the federal and state public alerting authorities which are broadcast from cell towers to your cell phone.

  • WEA’s look like a text message but get your attention through a unique sound and a vibration repeated twice.
  • They are no more than 360 characters.
  • They answer the questions of who sent it, who is going to, what emergency are we talking about, length of emergency, and what should I do.
  • WEA’s are automatic with no signing up.
  • These emergency alerts could save your life.

Reach Alerts

These alerts are sent to residents who do not receive the emergency alerts on their cell phone due to the area in Carter County where they live or they might have an older phone. A shorter message is sent with 120 characters to the land line phone. If you are not at home and have an answering machine, it will go to your answering machine.

  • Residents must sign up for these alerts giving their name, address, and phone number.
  • You may sign up for this by messaging Grayson EM (Joanne Dunfee) on her Facebook page.
  • There is no cost to the resident.

Voice/Siren Systems 

The “City of Grayson” EM was fortunate to obtain a grant for four sirens to be placed in Grayson – East Carter High School, Little League Field, Kentucky Christian University, and the First National Bank.

  • The siren will go off if there is a “warning” in Grayson.
  • The siren will not go off for a “watch” unless in the case of a tornado. This is because the situation can change so quickly.
  • Usually, the siren will not go off past 10pm. However, if it is a severe threat with the possibility of loss of life or property, the siren will be set.
  • The siren is for outdoor use only. If you are in your home and cannot understand the wording, you should turn your TV or radio on to see what the emergency is for the siren to be set off.
  • Weather outside may affect the sound of the voice when the alert is being set off such as wind or heavy rain.

Each community in Carter County has their own method of notifying residents of an emergency. Willard has their own siren.

Watches vs. Warnings

What is the difference between a watch and a warning? A “watch” means severe weather is possible but not yet happening. You would need to keep checking your weather to see if it would turn into a warning. If a “warning” is issued this means severe weather is happening in your area or will happen shortly. 

  • Example: Tornado Watch – condition is favorable for a tornado to develop 
  • Example: Tornado Warning – developing or likely to develop (take action now)
  • Example: Tornado Warning – developing or likely to develop (take action now) 

Know your Risks: 

What are your risks where you live? If there is a heavy rain, does the water rise quickly? What will you do if the bridge to your home gets washed away? During winter storms, do you usually lose your power? Do you have a place to go if a tornado is spotted? If you are in a mobile home, where will you go during a tornado? During extreme heat with no air conditioning, what will you do? 

You need to evaluate your situation and make a plan, especially if you have children. You cannot wait for this to happen. It’s not a matter of “if but when”.

  • Make a plan with your family in mind.
  • Think of how you will communicate if your family is not at home.
  • Do you have a designated place to go if each member of your family gets separated.
  • If you need to leave your home, what necessary items do you need to take?
  • If your family and you leave your home, is there a neighbor you can tell where you went; so relatives looking for you will know where you are?
  • What will you do with your pets and animals left behind? Keep in mind they depend upon you for food, water, and shelter.
  • After you have made your plan, communicate the plan with your family and children. Make updates when necessary.

Emergency Supplies 

After an emergency incident, you may have to survive for a few/several days on your own. A basic emergency kit is what your family will need to depend on.

  • Water – one gallon per person per day
  • Food – non perishable
  • Can Opener
  • Radio – battery powered
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Cell Phone – communication
  • Extra Batteries
  • Phone chargers

Additional Emergency Supplies

  • Medicines
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hygiene Products
  • Masks
  • Personal Identification – driver’s license, insurance info, etc.
  • Extra cash
  • A Possible Change of Clothing
  • Baby Items – diapers, wipes, etc.
  • Bowls and Food – for the pets
  • Games for Children
  • Blankets and/or Sleeping Bags (if stranded in your car)

Be prepared whether at home, in the car, or at a shelter. A disaster kit should be ready to grab and go. However, if you have not made one, make a list of all the items and things you will need to grab in a moment’s notice. At least, you will have thought of things you need and more prepared than having done nothing.


You should be thinking of your elderly relative who lives with you. Have you included them in your planning? Most likely you have. Remember they have probably been through something like this before and already know what to do. However, they may need your help with mobility and gathering their important necessities: medicine, cane/walker, prescription glasses, important medical papers, and special food. 

What about your relative who lives alone or maybe the elderly couple who lives down the road from you? Can you reach out to them and make sure that they are prepared? They might not hear or be visually impaired to understand what is going on. At this point, you need to “be a good neighbor” and take care of them till you can get in touch with someone to help them. One may even be on oxygen with the bottle running out. Try and help them the best way you can. If all else fails, ask for a relative’s number and contact them.


Whether you are at work or home, there may be a time when an alert sounds that you are to “shelter-in-place” due to a hazmat incident of a tractor-trailer carrying a poisonous or dangerous substance. This means you will be unable to leave the area until an all clear is issued. If this happens, these are some things you will need to do:

  • Lock doors, close windows, vents and fire place dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air-conditioners, and forced air-heating systems.
  • Go into an interior room with few windows.
  • Seal all windows and doors with plastic sheeting including duct taping the corners down.
  • Do not eat any food that you feel may be contaminated from another room.
  • Try not to let other people in who may have been out and become contaminated. Otherwise, they might spread the contamination into your area.
  • Remain until an “all clear” is given.

Last of All

“It’s not a matter of if but when”. Get ready now!



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