By Assemblyman Frank Skartados
Our community has been impacted by many man-made and natural disasters in recent years. We’ve seen snow and ice storms that knocked out electricity and made travel difficult. There was Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Last fall, there was Superstorm Sandy, which impacted many residents in region. I vividly remember the destruction I saw as I toured our community after the storm like it was yesterday.
After each of these disasters, we pulled together and rebuilt our community. They also give us pause, and remind us of the importance of being prepared for future catastrophes. There are several steps you can take that are inexpensive, easy to do and can be real lifesavers in the event of an emergency. September is National Preparedness Month, a perfect time to take steps that could save you and your family’s life.
First, it’s important to be informed about emergencies, traffic incidents, and severe weather. That’s why I signed up for a free emergency warning service called NY-Alert, and would encourage you also to sign up. You can also get alerts when a snow emergency is declared in your town, when sex offenders move into your neighborhood, and amber alerts. In addition to checking out the website, individuals can choose to receive customized alerts via email, text message, phone, fax machine and pager. For more information or to sign up for alerts, visit www.nyalert.gov. Through NY-Alert, there is also an app for iPhone and iPad users called i-Alertz that sends alerts to your device. For more information, visit www.ialertz.com.
Next, make sure you have phone numbers for family, friends and neighbors handy so you can easily contact them. After an emergency, you will want to call to check to make sure they are okay, and to let them know you’re okay. It’s good to have an agreed upon location where your family can all meet should you be separated. Sometimes during disasters, phone lines become overloaded or otherwise unavailable.
Consider how you’ll secure your home during an emergency. There may be times when you have to turn off the electricity or other utilities in your home – make sure every member of your household knows how to do this. You should be prepared if the power goes out for an extended period. Remember, if you have well water, make special provisions because it won’t be available without power. Don’t forget your pets. Have a plan to make sure they are sheltered and fed if you have to evacuate your home.
Preparing an Emergency Go Kit in advance will save precious time if you must evacuate or seek shelter. Put the following items in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container and keep your kit in an easily accessible place. Your kits should contain the following items, which you may already have around your home: water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and a first aid kit.
For more information on preparing for emergencies, check out www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family or www.ready.gov. As always, if I can be of assistance, please contact my office at 562-0888 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.