'Resolve to be Ready' for a Hurricane or Other Disasters

During an emergency, it’s easy to feel out of control.  The best way to be in control is to prepare for the unexpected to the best of your ability.

In an emergency, Where would you meet your family members outside your home? What medications would you need for your family and pets?  Where would you look for information about the emergency? Who would assist family members and friends who may be vulnerable due to age or illness if you are not available?  

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and a good time to talk with your family and plan what you would need should you have to leave your home or stay in place due to a hurricane or another disaster. During the first three days of an emergency, it is essential that you plan how you will survive until organized rescue efforts can be mobilized.

The goal of NPM is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies throughout the year.  In New Jersey, hurricane season runs through November so preparedness is essential.  

“This year’s campaign titled “Resolve to be Ready” is a call to action to residents to think ahead and look beyond batteries and flashlights when making emergency preparedness plans,” said Freeholder Mark Caliguire, public health and safety department liaison. 

“Preparation should include purchasing non-perishable food items, planning ways to feed your family should you lose power and making sure that you have necessary medications for your entire family, including your pets,” he said. 

“Since predicting when and where a disaster will hit can be difficult to pinpoint, it’s important to be prepared with a plan and an emergency supplies kit,” said Freeholder Calguire. “Being prepared can make a significant difference in your health, safety and comfort during the first few days of a disaster.”   

Locally, National Preparedness Month is being promoted by the Somerset County Public Health & Safety Department, which includes the Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management.    

Understanding basic food guidelines, particularly if power outages and flooding occur, is essential during an emergency. If there is a boil-water advisory in your area, be sure to pay attention to instructions. Having a plan in place will ensure proper nutrition, energy to take care of yourself and your family, and long-term wellness. 

During an emergency you can provide healthy and delicious meals for your family by following a few basic tips for stocking your pantry and planning emergency menus:

·      Know the safe storage temperatures for perishable food. If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. If unopened, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours.  A freezer will maintain its temperature for about 48 hours if it's full, and 24 hours if it's half full. Having a refrigerator and freezer thermometer will ensure that temperatures are safe.

·      Stock up on condiments such as ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and barbeque sauce (low- sodium and low-sugar varieties are better choices). These items have a long shelf life and are versatile in making foods taste better. Make sure your pantry has canned products that provide protein, such as chicken, salmon, beans and peanut butter.  It’s also important to have a manual can opener on hand.

  • Purchase boxes of powdered milk or shelf-stable cartons of milk that can be used for cereal or desserts. Dried fruits, nuts and spices are easy to store and can add a dash of flavor to otherwise bland dishes during an emergency.  

Invitations were extended to Somerset County businesses, day care/preschools, faith-based and community organizations to participate in the NPM effort by setting up table displays of items needed in an emergency supplies kit. Participating groups received free resources, such as emergency-supply checklists and pocket-sized booklets in English and Spanish. Also, a poster from the Somerset County Health Department to aid in promoting National Preparedness Month was provided.

The following Somerset County organizations will have displays with resources for the public to take:  Rite Aid in Basking Ridge; Raritan Valley Community College Student Life in Branchburg; Kinder Kastle, 28 Deli and Catholic Charities in Bridgewater; St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church and Hillsborough Senior Center; Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church in Bernards Township; Manville Senior Center; Montgomery ShopRite No. 617; Golden Bread, Saint Ann’s School, Saint Ann’s Church, Shree Swaminarayan Temple, MMG Raritan, Philippine Island, Phil-Am Store, Lutong Bahay, CPA Accounting, Trinity Church Goods LLC, Marita Grocery, Center Part Haircutters, LabCorp, Raritan Apothecary, E&M Convenience Stop & Deli and Delta Community Supports in Raritan; Rocky Hill Municipal Building; New Road School in Somerset (Franklin Township); Jewish Family Services of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties, Somerville Senior Citizen’s Housing, Samaritan Homeless Interim Program (SHIP), Spanish American Store, Wald Drugs, Saint Paul Baptist Church and Pinoy Goods in Somerville; Warrenbrook Senior Center, The Citigroup Children's Center and Chubb & Son, Division of Federal Insurance Company in Warren.

Check your local stores and businesses to see if they also are participating.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leads this annual effort through its Ready Campaign, in partnership with Citizen Corps and The Ad Council.  FEMA asks all Americans to make the pledge to prepare this month.  

For more information about National Preparedness Month or to request resources, contact Sumantha Banerjee, Public Health Emergency Notifications Systems Coordinator, at 908-231-7155 or banerjee@co.somerset.nj.us. For more information about emergency preparedness, visit the Somerset County Emergency Preparedness webpage at www.co.somerset.nj.us/_ongoing/emergency_preparedness.html.