Riley Ernst
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
P: 740-652-2800
Email: riley.ernst@fairfieldcountyohio.gov

Staying safe in extreme heat situations is important for your family’s health. To find information on cooling stations available in Fairfield County, please visit our Facebook page or call Fairfield County 211 at 211 or 740-687-0500.

Extreme heat tips include:

  • • Stay Cool: Use air conditioning, avoid direct sunlight, and wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and sugary drinks.
  • • Stay Informed: Monitor local weather updates and know the signs of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • • Limit Outdoor Activities: Schedule outdoor work and activities for cooler parts of the day.

For more details, visit the CDC's extreme heat page.

Unfortunately, our county always has the potential of emergencies related to floods, tornadoes, snowstorms, thunderstorms and extended power outages. Your Fairfield County Health Department staff tries to anticipate what emergencies we could possibly face and then develop plans to be able to respond to any threats to health and safety.

For the weather related emergencies, health department plans address those things that could potentially put the public health at risk. For instance, if there is a flood and power goes out for an extended period of time, the health department might be called on to inspect temporary shelters to assure hygiene and health issues, or inspect restaurants and grocery stores to make sure food stays safe during and after the power outage.   

An example of a health emergency for your family could be that you all get the flu and have to stay home for several days. Think about what you might do in this kind of emergency. Do you have everything you would need at home so that you would not have to go out?”

There are many good lists of what you and your family would need for an emergency kit.  Everyone should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day.  If you have the space, experts recommend a week’s supply of food and water. Don’t forget your pets or any livestock. Choose foods that don’t require refrigeration and are not high in salt.

Food you could store might include ready to eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and soups. Also, have enough medications on hand that you can stay home for a few days without having to worry.

Remember to check your supplies at least once or twice a year.  Discard expired items, and use up any that are nearing their expiration date.  Place newer items in the back and use the older items in the front. It’s best to rotate your bottled water supply every six months as well.

Be informed by getting a weather alert radio from either an electronics store or a major retailer.
If your power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.  Each time the door is opened, a significant amount of refrigeration is lost. If your refrigerator is kept at 40 degrees or below, it will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened, according to the United States Department of Agriculture website. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours, or 24 hours if half full and the door remains closed.

Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below. If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
Across the country, local, state and national government agencies have been working together for years to protect all our citizens from both manmade and natural disasters. Locally, the Fairfield County Health Department works with the Fairfield Emergency Management Association and other County agencies to be prepared for health emergency or disaster to ensure the safety of our residents.

To make sure that Fairfield County Health Department staff are prepared, they complete ongoing required emergency response training and participate in local and regional training exercises.
Individuals and families should also be prepared for health emergencies. If you live alone, getting the flu or a bad cold and having to stay in bed for a few days could be a health emergency if you are not prepared.  Plan ahead, and make sure you have the necessary things including food and water easily available at home so that you could remain in bed and take care of yourself.

Being prepared also means you are aware of how diseases are spread. This way, you can take precautions to avoid spreading or getting germs. Maintain good health habits, and be sure to cover your sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it promptly. Wash your hands often. Cover your cough by coughing into your elbow or sleeve and not into your hands.

You can also help yourself and your family by preparing for a longer stay at home in the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood or even a pandemic flu outbreak. There are many good resources available online to help you prepare and offer checklists for what to put in your disaster kit.

Ready.gov is an easy online way to find out more about being prepared. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created this site to educate citizens about how to be prepared in case of a national emergency.

Ready.gov has this advice about making a preparedness kit. When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

Emergency Resource Links