Be Ready for an Emergency
A disaster or other emergency can strike at any time. Should that occur we are fortunate in Hudson County to be served by a large contingent of professional emergency personnel. However, the only one who can fully prepare you for these situations is YOU. As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; the citizens of the Gulf coast, in many cases, had to fend for themselves for quite some time before emergency personnel could get to them. In unprecedented numbers we witnessed ordinary citizens who were faced with extraordinary circumstances proving themselves to be their own best resource.
Depending on the type of disaster or emergency situation, it is possible that you will be without essential services. The power may go out, stores may be closed, roads may become impassable or even closed by authorities, or you may be asked to evacuate the area. In the event you needed them, it is possible that rescuers may not be able to get to you for some time. Do you have the necessary plans and supplies to successfully overcome these difficult times on your own?
The following information is intended to assist you in preparing you and your family for a natural or manmade disaster. Please take the time to review it carefully and consider adopting these suggestions to better help you prepare. These are guidelines and recommendations based upon information issued by the American Red Cross, FEMA, and Department of Homeland Security. They are intended to address diverse groups of people living in different parts of the country. We have tailored these recommendations based upon the types of communities (largely urban environment) that exist in Hudson County. Use common sense in employing them. Some information may not apply to you or may only partly apply.
MAKE A GO KIT
Evacuations can require you to leave the area you are in at a moments notice. To prepare for such an even, consider having a Go Kit ready to go in advance. Go Kits are intended to be pre-packed supplies that are available for you to take with you so that you will have the suggested items should you need them.
Recommended Items to Include:
- Flashlight with plenty of extra batteries or wind up flashlight (these don’t require batteries).
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries or wind up radio (these don’t require batteries).
- First aid kit.
- Prescription medications in their original bottle, plus original copies of the prescriptions (be sure to replace expired prescription drugs according to the expiration dates).
- Spare eyeglasses plus a copy of the prescription.
- Foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking such as granola bars and energy bars.
- Items that infants and elderly household members may require.
- Change of clothes for each household member, sturdy comfortable shoes, and light weight rain gear.
- Blankets (Mylar blankets are light and compact).
- Copies of your important documents in a waterproof and portable container (insurance cards, photo IDs, proof of address, social security card, drivers license, etc.).
- Extra sets of car and house keys.
- Coins and cash in small denominations.
- Map of the area.
- Any other essential items that you feel you may need if you have to evacuate.
Put these items in a sturdy, easy to carry container such as a camping backpack or a suitcase on wheels. Ensure that it is ready to GO at all times of the year. You may want to consider keeping one in your car as well as home.
MAKE A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN
Before a disaster strikes, you should consider having a Family Emergency Plan already in place. It is possible that you and your family members may be separated either before a disaster occurs or by situations that arise during the disaster. A Family Emergency Plan can help you and your family know what to do during an emergency.
Things to consider:
- Decide where your household will reunite after a disaster. Identify two places to meet: one right outside your home and another outside your neighborhood, such as a library, community center, or place of worship.
- When possible, plan to stay with friends or family that lives outside the affected area.
- Identify all possible exit routes from your home and neighborhood.
- Designate an out-of-area friend or relative that household members can call if separated during a disaster. If Hudson County phone circuits are busy, long-distance calls may be easier to make. This out-of-state contact can help you communicate with others.
- Account for everybody's needs, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers.
- Ensure that household members have a copy of your Family Emergency Plan and emergency contact information to keep in their wallets and backpacks.
- Don’t forget to include your pets in your plan.
- Practice your plan with all household members.
- Ensure you review and revise your plan every six months
*IMPORTANT* If your children are in school, know the school’s procedures for dealing with a disaster or emergency. Coordinate your plan with the school’s plan. You may not be able to, or may be instructed not to, pick up your child immediately.
For more detailed information on preparing a Family Emergency Plan follow this link to information provided by the American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont36_lang0_23.pdf
DISASTER SUPPLY KIT
During a disaster, you and your family may be instructed not to evacuate or to possibly even Shelter in Place
(Visit http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/shelterinplace.html to learn how to Shelter in Place).
In other cases you may be unable to evacuate due to injury, illness or other unforeseen problem. In these instances you and your family may have to remain at home or at work until the danger passes (listen to your radio or TV news broadcasts for instructions) or help arrives. Remember, you may be on your own for quite some time. You may be without gas, electric or clean water.
In addition to your Go Kit, you may want to consider having a Disaster Supply Kit. A Disaster Supply Kit is intended to provide you with items that you will need for an extended period of time. The following items should be considered for inclusion in a Disaster Supply Kit in your home or at your office in case you have to remain there for a long period of time.
Disaster Supply Kit:
- One gallon of drinking water per person/day for consumption and sanitary needs (your pets also require this). Plan on having at least three days worth; more is better. Do not store water near any chemicals.
- Non-perishable, ready to eat canned foods, at least three days worth.
- Manual can opener.
- Additional flashlights (battery powered or wind up), batteries, radios (battery powered or wind up), or portable TV (battery powered).
- A whistle to summon help from neighbors or passers by.
- Iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach (for disinfecting water ONLY if directed to do so by health officials) and eyedropper (for adding bleach to water).
- Personal hygiene items: soap, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.
- Phone that does not rely on electricity (cordless phones that have a base that plugs in to an outlet will not function when the power goes out; corded phones are powered by the phone line and will usually continue to operate if the power fails).
- Extra batteries for cell phones (remember to keep them charged before the power goes out).
- Child care supplies or other special care items.
- First aid kit.
- Multi-purpose utility tool/tool kit (can contain knife, screwdriver, saw, etc.).
- Disposable plates and utensils.
- Pet food and supplies.
- Extra clothing (plan for the possibility of cold or inclement weather).
- Credit cards, ATM cards, cash and coins (for pay phones, vending machines, etc.).
- Entertainment: games, books, playing cards etc.
You can start this kit by including items that you already have and little by little build on to it. You may want to put these items in a storage closet, large container, or other storage device. It is understandable though that you may not have a single dedicated space available to put your Disaster Supply Kit. Do the best you can to keep these items separate from your regular, day to day living supplies so they do not get used before they are needed in an emergency.
*IMPORTANT* Check expiration dates on food and replace if necessary. Water containers that you fill yourself should be changed every six months (discard old water). There are differing opinions regarding bottled water that is sealed should be handled in accordance with the bottlers recommendations.