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Disaster and Desserts: an emergency preparedness workshop
One year after an ice storm swept in and brought life to a standstill for a time, over thirty Hickman County residents gathered on Tuesday evening at the Farm Bureau meeting room for an event whimsically entitled “Disaster and Desserts”. Sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Office, the event brought the sweet of homemade goodies, the bittersweet of the anniversary of the beginning of the storm and the spice of ideas to keep families safe if or when another disaster strikes.
County Extension Agent Melissa Goodman put together a program that began with Judge Pruitt’s recollection of last year’s storm and his explanation on how Hickman County will respond to a future disaster.
Pruitt told the crowd that “We’re gong to make it a priority to have the courthouse powered up and somebody there to answer questions.”  He said that the one call system that will cost the county between two and three thousand dollars a year is only set up for land line calls.  The system is projected in the future to add cell phones numbers.
A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will begin work to create an emergency plan for the county. Judge Pruitt announced that he appointed young Justin Jackson deputy for the LEPC.
Paula Clark, the 4-H Extension Agent, shared a helpful brochure on making a family plan for an emergency. Families should make their plans simple and post it in a prominent place. Part of the plan should be clearly listed places to gather in an emergency near the home and, in case the neighborhood is off limits, away from the home.
Leslie Dunkin, Red Cross Director for the Graves County area that includes Hickman County, brought emergency kits to show. Leslie brought along a 21 week plan for a family of four to budget buying a few supplies weekly until they are disaster ready. She also told the crowd that the Red Cross also serves families that have lost their homes to fire or other disasters by providing temporary shelter and vouchers.
Darian Irvan, Extension Agent for Ag and Natural Resources, brought up a new topic – the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Use of a generator in an enclosed space can create deadly invisible fumes. Irvan said that’s why carbon monoxide is called the silent killer. Holding up a carbon monoxide detector, he said that detectors should be installed close to the floor because, unlike smoke that starts high and drifts down, carbon monoxide fumes start at floor level. 
The last presenter, Lisa Adams, Nutrition Education Assistant, had a simple rule for safe food handling. When in doubt, throw it out. She said some foods go bad without smelling bad, so smell is not always the best measure. Milk and raw meats spoil first. Use them up quickly when the power goes out. Keep the refrigerator door closed as long as possible to preserve the chill inside.
At the end of the program, attendees gathered around a table of handouts to take home tips and advice. Most agreed that they hoped never to need an emergency plan, but were going to make one up, “just in case”.

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