In stories about the tornados that rolled across our community a couple of weeks ago, the quote of one victim stood out sharply.
The Hephzibah resident said "there was no warning" when her home was struck by a tornado.
Fortunately no one in her home was injured. But the fact is that there were ample warnings before the tornadoes ever touched down. She would have heard those warnings if she owned and used a weather alert radio.
Consider the work started two years ago in Columbia County as a health version of a weather-alert radio. The warning is valuable, but it doesn't do any good for those who choose to ignore it.
In August 2007, representatives from area health and emergency agencies gathered at the Columbia County Emergency Operations Center in Evans to discuss planning how to handle an influenza "pandemic."
Such exercises help agencies prepare for the possibility of a widespread flu outbreak.
All that planning seemed vaguely alarmist until this week, when health agencies around the world began sounding the alarm on a deadly swine flu outbreak in Mexico. Outbreaks of the disease also have been reported in several places in the United States - none fatal, thus far - and authorities worldwide are issuing warnings to travelers.
For the general public, commonsense cold-season health precautions still stand: wash your hands, cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, see a doctor if needed.
But just as weather alerts can't help those who don't hear them, health advisories can't work unless they're heeded. For that reason, we should thank the emergency and public health officials who spend their time planning for these things before they're needed, even if some in the public don't listen.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.