"The best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens," said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd. "By taking time to make or review emergency plans and develop emergency kits, families can be ready for hurricane season or for any emergency. There are lessons learned from our experience with Superstorm Sandy, such as issues with generator safety, which can help improve our readiness and save lives."
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes added, "Though hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th, preparedness is a way of life. Preparedness means moving from ‘lessons learned' to ‘lessons applied,' in order to increase our state of readiness each and every year. The mission of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) is to build resilient communities, engage citizens in the emergency management process and make the process inclusive to all community members. Our goal is disaster survivors, not disaster victims."
Edward Dickson, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP), said taking steps now to be better prepared for future emergencies will help save lives.
"With the start of the Atlantic hurricane season this weekend, we remain mindful of the damage and devastation caused by Irene and Sandy from the preceding hurricane seasons," Director Dickson said. "With this in mind, now is the best time to get prepared for this year's hurricane season and any possible storms."
New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez encouraged senior citizens and individuals with disabilities to work closely with their caregivers to secure an emergency plan for evacuation, medication and care in the event of a hurricane or any other type of emergency.
"It's important to have an emergency plan in place and one or two backup plans, particularly if caregiving services are involved," said Commissioner Velez. "In emergency situations, lack of electricity, phone service and transportation can significantly impact a person's ability to use medical devices or access food and pharmaceuticals."
Residents are encouraged to prepare by performing three tasks:
Make an emergency plan. Make plans with family and friends in case you're not together when a hurricane or other emergencies occur. Discuss how you will contact each other, where you will meet and what you will do in different situations. Become familiar with your town's evacuation routes.
Stay informed: Situations can change quickly during a public health emergency. Continue to monitor traditional media sources - TV, newspapers and radio - to stay informed of breaking news and continued coverage of emergency events. Find out if your community has a "reverse 9-1-1" system or if you can opt-in for email updates from municipal officials.
Make an emergency kit: Emergency kits will allow individuals and families to survive several days without access to food, water or electricity. Emergency kits should include at least a three to five day supply of non-perishable food and water, prescription medications for up to two weeks if available, baby supplies and any additional items for special medical needs such as an extra pair of eye glasses and batteries for hearing aids. Your kit should also include important phone numbers for doctors as well as car cell-phone chargers.
In addition, if there is a power outage, residents considering using emergency generators should strictly follow manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines. If residents have questions about the operation or installation of a generator, they should call a licensed electrician.
Residents should never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside their home, basement, garage or even outside near an open window. The use of these devices can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to build in a home.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or even death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
For a comprehensive list of how to put a family emergency kit together, visit http://nj.gov/health/er/documents/kit.pdf.
The NJOEM recommends the following ways to stay informed about emergencies:
On the Web - Use credible websites to get information about natural hazards and emergency preparedness. The NJOEM works closely with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center regarding storm predictions and forecasts.
Social Media - Social media and other advanced communications technologies are used by the OEM and by emergency managers statewide.
Alerts - Mobile / Text (SMS) & E-Mail
· NIXLE - Subscribe to the NJ State Police (NJSP) on Nixle Connect at http://local.nixle.com/new-jersey-state-police/. New Jersey residents can register to receive messages by sending a text message with their zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). Online registration is also available at www.nixle.com
· NJ Alert - NJ Alert is a free, voluntary and confidential emergency alerting system that allows NJ Office of Emergency Management officials to send E-mail or text messages to cell phones, and other email enabled devices during an emergency event. Sign up for NJ Alert by logging on to: www.njalert.gov.
· CMAS - the Community Mobile Alert System - the National Weather Service uses CMAS to transmit weather warnings. A cell phone must be WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) enabled to receive these messages, check the make/model of your phone. Read about WEA alerts here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/WEA/WEA.php
NOAA Weather Radio - is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service Office. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NOAA Weather Radios are typically inexpensive, readily available in stores and can often be programmed for your specific area. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/