West Columbia Police Chief and Fire Chief are prepared in case of emergency

West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall.

National Preparedness Month just ended and that’s a good time for West Columbia families to go over their emergency plans.

In South Carolina, we have had a hurricane threat this year. There is also the possibility of tornadoes, and flooding from rain storms.

Consider how you will respond to emergencies that can happen anywhere, such as home fires and floods. Think about emergencies- like a winter storm- that may require your family to find shelter in your home versus an emergency – like a hurricane- that may require your family to evacuate. There has been good reason to be ready in West Columbia in recent years.  In West Columbia emergency services, including police and fire, rise to meet the demands.

In 2015, severe flooding impacted West Columbia. And in 2016 Hurricane Matthew dumped massive amounts of rain locally. Hurricane Irma triggered an emergency response in 2017. 
The Department of Homeland Security encourages families to make an emergency plan today.

West Columbia Fire Chief Chris smith talks to city council

West Columbia Police Chief Dennis Tyndall said with so many storms so recently, his department makes sure not to be caught off guard. 

“Bad weather is something no one wants, but it’s something we all have to be prepared for,” said Tyndall. He said the West Columbia Police Department will make sure extra patrols are on hand when there is a severe weather forecast. Staff is put on stand-by in case there is a need for more personnel.

Tyndall said police officers are out to keep an eye on low-lying areas.”Flooding can be a problem and we will stop motorists from driving into standing water,” said Tyndall.

He also said patrols look for areas where power lines or trees are down.”Of course, stay away from downed power lines,” Tyndall said. “Those are very dangerous areas.”

The American Red Cross suggests that residents in West Columbia, and everywhere, have a response plan for the emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. 

WCFD Chief Chris Smith

One item to have in an emergency, said Tyndall, is a radio in order to be notified in regard to severe weather alerts. He also said have a flashlight, fresh batteries and make sure your phone is charged.

In cases where residents have medical equipment, like an oxygen machine, Tyndall said be sure to have a generator as an alternate power source, and make sure the generator is ventilated so that deadly carbon-monoxide does not build up.

In addition to West Columbia Police, West Columbia Fire Chief Chris Smith said fire department personnel are on alert in emergency circumstances.

“Make sure you have an emergency plan and discuss it ahead of time,” said Smith. He said families should have a place where everyone meets so a head count can be taken and everyone can be accounted for. 

Smith, like Tyndall, said make sure you have a flashlight and radio and working batteries to help get through a storm where power may be lost. Smith also said it is important to check to make sure your smoke detector is working, and replace the batteries if they are not fresh. 

Bad weather on Sunset Boulevard

He said West Columbia has been fortunate this fall without a lot of bad weather, but there is always the possibility of severe conditions. “We have not had many issues with the weather, Smith said. “But it has been extremely hot. We have to remind people to stay cool and stay hydrated when it’s so hot.”

Smith said dry conditions, like we are experiencing now, make woods fires more of a possibility, but West Columbia has not had a problem with that this year.

In accordance with West Columbia officials, the Red Cross suggests that families “choose two places to meet up. One being right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.

The Red Cross also says it’s a good idea to have a place to meet outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or if you are asked to evacuate.

Practice evacuating your home. Grab the items on your emergency list, just like you will in a real emergency, then drive your planned evacuation route. Plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices such as cell phones and GPS units and on paper.

Bad weather affecting Riverwalk

If your community experiences a disaster, you can register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe.

Or, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.

In emergency, also stay tuned to local media, social media, for updated emergency information if possible. Go to: West Columbia’s Facebook page
West Columbia Twitter page
West Columbia Instagram page

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