Oxford emergency management to add signage, cooling-warming centers

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – The city of Oxford will use a recently awarded competitive federal grant to upgrade two of its emergency response capabilities.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood said part of the $7,000 grant will fund a program to provide highly visible house numbers for disadvantaged residents who lack them.
“Phase 1 was to identify handicapped, elderly and low-income residents whose houses are not numbered or not numbered with appropriately visible numbers,” Allgood said. The grant will pay to advertise the project to potential applicants and to purchase the signage, he said, and volunteers ranging from Medical Reserve Corps members to individuals who sign up through Volunteer Oxford will install the numbers. Identification of qualifying residents will likely begin in early March, he added.
Another portion of the grant will equip portable cooling and warming centers for use on emergency and disaster sites.
“There’s a need in emergency or disaster for the general public, fire crews, public works crews to have a place to get a break from the elements and warm up or cool down for a while, depending on the time of year,” Allgood said. “A good example is last fall when we had a major sewer line break. We had public works crews on the scene for several days when the heat index was around 110 degrees.”
The city already has a couple of canopies similar to those popular with tailgating football fans for shade and fans, but the additional units will include forced-air propane heaters and electric misting fans, depending on the season.
“Cooling is done with a misting fan – basically a 10- or 20-gallon cooler filled with ice water, where the pump creates a fine mist,” Allgood said. “On average it’ll drop the ambient temperature in the tent about 25 degrees.”
The warming and cooling stations will be largely to give short breaks from the weather to victims and workers on an emergency site. Allgood said he hopes to have them equipped within the next several weeks.
“They’re not for long-term, but it provides us another piece of the puzzle where we can get some temporary relief in place,” Allgood said. “They’ll be great when we have major water line breaks or sewer breaks or a big fire scene or even special events. If it’s extremely hot for Double Decker Festival, we’ll have them there.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com