Monday, December 29, 2008

How to prepare baby sitters for disasters

By the Associated Press

If your child is one of the nearly 8 million who are age 4 and younger who attend a center- or home-based child care program or stay with a nanny, sitter or another nonrelative, you should make sure plans are in place for coping with a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major event.

For day-care facilities:

— Find out how children will be evacuated and where they will go. Providers should have at least two evacuation sites, and parents should know where they are.

— Provide at least two ways to be contacted, including through someone outside their geographic area. Ask the program director for a contact number or a way to get information during an emergency.

— Keep your contact information with the school current.

"Sometimes it's hard to get people to sit down and fill out the information, but I can't stress how important that is," says Linda Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.

— Provide an extra supply of medicine if a child takes it regularly, and inquire how infants and children with special needs will be tended.

— Home-based or small care centers should make sure they are known to emergency officials. Some centers are tucked away in neighborhoods, churches and community buildings.

— Providers should make name tags or ID bands ahead of time for each child that are helpful if a child gets separated during an evacuation.

— Providers should learn about the types of disasters likely to occur in their areas, and know when to stay put and when to evacuate. Have food and supplies for everyone to last three days if they stay in place.

For baby sitters and nannies:

— Discuss evacuation plans and meeting spots.

— Prepare a kit that includes information like phone numbers and emergency contacts, copies of the children's birth certificates and health insurance information, says Deneane Maldonado, president of the Coral Springs, Fla.-based Nanny Poppinz agency that has about 12,000 nannies nationwide.

— Remember to include some contacts out of the geographic area. You may want to get phone numbers of your caregivers' relatives or friends as well.

— In hurricane-prone South Florida, Maldonado recommends parents leave $150 in cash for each day a nanny may be evacuated with the children, and fill out a form allowing her to get medical treatment for them. Don't forget extra medicine.

— Make plans for emergencies that may keep a parent from getting or even calling home one night, such as during the 2003 blackout, says Susan Tokayer, who owns Family Helpers agency in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.,

For all parents:

— Realize you can't plan for everything.

"The most important thing is to have a caregiver who is aware enough and savvy enough and smart enough to make the decision at the time," Tokayer says. "The decision is based on safety first."


Create a disaster preparedness kit

By The Associated Press

If you don't have a disaster kit, take time today to make one. If you do have one, go through it to make sure you haven't "borrowed" any items from it, and to make sure supplies are still fresh.

What to include:

— Water (at least a gallon daily per person for three to seven days)

— Nonperishable packages or canned food (enough for three to seven days)

— Manual can opener

— Paper plates and plastic utensils

— Rain gear, waterproof shoes

— Bedding

— First aid kit, including prescription drugs

— Toiletries and personal hygiene items

— Extra eye glasses, contact lenses and supplies

— Flashlight with extra batteries

— Battery-operated radio

— Tool kit

— Plastic bucket with tight lid

— Traditional corded telephone (in case electricity is lost)

— Cash (ATMs might not be working after a storm)

— Pet care items, including leashes and carriers

— Fire extinguisher

— Matches in a waterproof container

— Garbage bags, paper towels and toilet paper

— Disinfectant

— Household chlorine bleach

— Plastic sheeting/tarps

— Copies of important documents, including wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, bank account and credit card numbers, inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers, family records and medical records. Keep them in a waterproof bag.

— Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.

— Toys, games and books for the kids

— Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise it

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Historic sites

Pottsgrove Manor
100 W. King St., Pottstown

POTTSTOWN — Pottsgrove Manor is where John Potts once lived. Raised in Boyertown by his successful iron-master father, Thomas, and stepmother, John gained hands-on experience about the iron industry, which would benefit him the rest of his life.

Thomas, a Quaker who arrived in Philadelphia from Wales in 1698, became a successful businessman largely due to the beneficial connections he made with established families that owned iron forges in the area, such as the Rutter family and the Savage family.

At age 25, John further strengthened that bond when he married Ruth Savage.

Two of the legacies of John are the town of Pottstown and the mansion known as Pottsgrove Manor.

Before John Potts died in 1768, he owned more than 4,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania and Virginia, along with all those businesses. His greatest success was the establishment of Pottstown.

In 1751, John bought nearly 1,000 acres of land from a man named Samuel McCall that eventually became Pottstown and neighboring Pottsgrove.

In 1761, nine years after moving into the mansion, according to a history of Montgomery County, Potts had the surrounding land surveyed with the intention of constructing a town. He had the plans painstakingly laid out in an English grid system similar to Philadelphia and even envisioned his town as matching the biggest city in the colonies.

When Potts died his son Thomas purchased the mansion from the family estate. Thomas was eventually forced to sell the mansion in 1785, Symborski said.

The mansion has survived all those changes, has been restored to its Colonial era look and is a historically significant site.

-- Walter Ault

Pottsgrove Manor is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Mill Grove: The John James Audubon House
1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon

The first U.S. home of John James Audubon, a naturalist and artist famous for his guide to birds.

The estate is true to the time when Audubon lived there with fields, bird observation areas, woodlands with trails and a view of the Perkiomen Creek, a pond and an aviary of birds. The house also contains many of Audubon's works.

The site is an educational center for the Audubon Society.

The mansion is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun. 1 to 4 p.m.

Joanna Furnace
Route 345, Morgantown

A site of one of the first iron works in Berks County, the historic Joanna Furnace site features a working mill, workers houses and a main house.

Started by Samuel Potts, Thomas Rutter III, Thomas May and Thomas Bull the site was named after Potts' wife, Joanna.

The furnace stopped work in 1898.

Furnace Operation Days are held every third Saturday in the summer with re-enactors, sales and historic tours with other festivals throughout the year.

Daniel Boone Homestead
400 Daniel Boone Road, Birdsboro

"When most people think of Daniel Boone they think of Kentucky, but he was born here in 1734," park guide Ruth Konrad said during a tour of the Boone House which was built in 1730.

In later years, owners William Maugridge and John DeTurk made major changes to the home. The mix of iron, stone and red shale, reflecting English and German influences, is quite a sight.

Boone, as many a textbook have explained, gained immortality on the wild, wild frontier during the country’s infancy, fighting back Indians and leading folks to the virgin Kentucky plains.

In 1773, Boone fell short in his first try to settle Kentucky. He was successful in 1775, and established Boonesborough. As legend goes, Boone returned to the Homestead in 1781 and 1788. He later died in Missouri in the fall of 1820.

Englishman Maugridge purchased the property from the Boone family in 1750. He was a judge from the formation of Berks County in 1752 until his passing in 1766.

A Pennsylvania German, DeTurk obtained the land and resided there until his death in 1808.

Managed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the 579-acre tract includes seven 18th century structures, a lake, picnic areas and other recreational facilities.

Employing an array of exhibits, programs, tours and publications, the Homestead brings to life the history of the three families that shaped its personality.

"We get about 70,000 to 80,000 visitors a year," said administrator Jim Lewars.

--By Alen Beljin

Hours are March 1 to Dec. 31, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sundays, noon to 4:30. Closed Mondays. The grounds are open until 5 p.m.

Mouns Jones House
Old Philadelphia Pike, Douglassville
Managed by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County

Built in 1716 by Mouns and Ingabor Jones, the house is a two-and-a-half story sandstone building at the south end of what was the original 498-acre tract acquired by Jones in 1701.

Born in 1663, Jones first settled on land acquired from his father in the greater Philadelphia area. He married Ingabor Laicon about 1690 in the Old Swedes Church in Philadelphia.

The couple had five children before moving to Berks County where Mouns Jones was a known friend and confidant to local Native Americans. He died in 1727 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Gabriel's Episcopal, Route 422 East, Douglassville.

The 20- by 36-foot structure is built in the style of an English hall-parlor home with casement-style windows. A deep cellar beneath the home has been filled in over the decades by flooding of the nearby Schuylkill River. A corner fireplace in the parlor reveals lingering Swedish influence.

It is near the historic Morlatton Village on Old Philadelphia Pike along the Schuylkill River.

Morlatton Village
Old Philadelphia Pike, Douglassville
Managed by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County

Includes a bridge keepers house, a covered bridge, the George Douglass Mansion, Mouns Jones House and White Horse Inn. Held the only grist mill to serve the Oley Valley region.

Hopewell Furnace
Off Route 345, near French Creek State Park and below Birdsboro
Managed by the National Park Service

The restoration of Hopewell Village and Furnace and the creation of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site was one of the Civil Conservation Corps' many successes.

Located in eastern Berks County, Hopewell Furnace was constructed in 1771 by iron master Mark Bird. Hard financial times bedeviled Bird during the 1780s, and in 1788 he was forced to sell the furnace at auction.

The furnace was bought in 1800 by members of the Brooke family, a name familiar to Birdsboro area residents. They continued to make iron there well into the 19th century, but eventually couldn't compete with technology of modern steel plants. In the summer of 1883, Hopewell's furnace made its final blast.

When the iron making ended at Hopewell, the Brookes began to turn the area into an agricultural site. During the next 27 years, another 500 acres were purchased, dairy and sheep herds were established, and chicken coops built. Apple orchards were planted and charcoal was sold.

Workers continued to live in the tenant houses, and the Brooke family, now living in Philadelphia and Birdsboro, used the main house occasionally as a summer residence.

In 1935, the federal government purchased 5,500 acres around Hopewell Furnace for use in its CCC program. The acquisition included 4,500 acres owned by the Brooke family, who received $98,301 in payment.

According to Park Superintendent Edie Shean-Hammond, "FDR purchased this land to create French Creek National Recreation Demonstration Area." The CCC workers, she said, were "told to tear all the buildings down."

Fortunately, the men in this CCC Camp were World War I vets, mature men capable of making independent decisions. When they uncovered the furnace ruins and other buildings of historic importance, they objected to the destruction. This sparked an investigation of the site and it was concluded that Hopewell should be restored and its historic significance preserved.

Thus, Shean-Hammond said, Hopewell became "the first historical site in the nation to be saved by the work of the CCC."

In 1938, the National Park Service designated 214 acres within FCNRDA as Hopewell Village National Historic Site.

The site offers hiking trails with trailheads off the main road that are open year round.

-- Michael T. Snyder

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday and federal holidays. Hiking trails are open daily, year round.


Escape routes for a Limerick power plant emergency

The Limerick Generating plant, located along the Schuylkill, has offered the following emergency plan in case of a disaster or serious incident at the generating station.

"A power plant reactor cannot produce a nuclear explosion. The uranium
fuel contains very little fissionable material. As for radiation, the
complex structure of a nuclear power plant is designed to prevent the
release of radiation. A serious incident, however, could allow some
radiation to escape, most likely as a cloud, or “plume,” of radioactive
steam that would be carried away from the plant by the wind. The
degree of risk to the public would depend on the size of the plume, the
direction and speed of the wind, and other factors," according to the emergency brochure.

For more information, click here