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Friday, August 26, 2011

Pack and plan ahead for Hurricane Irene; Go Bags, emergency kits and plans to keep your family safe by Karen Duffy


Karen Duffy of the New York Daily News has devised a plan for us to go by so we can survive Hurricane Irene. Read it and pass it along!!!

Plan ahead and you'll be ready for Hurricane Irene -- or any storm that comes your way.
(Courtesy of Seth Wenig/AP)
I'm a proud daughter of the Empire State and daughter of a cop. My appreciation for our NYC emergency services is so great, it inspired me to take the Office of Emergency Management Community Emergency Response Team training.

I have been a CERT Team member with Community Board 2 for four years.  I even hosted the Ready New York video on emergency preparedness.

The Office of Emergency Management breaks it down into three simple steps: Create a kit, make a plan and be informed.

Here's everything you need to keep safe during Hurricane Irene or any disaster. 

Create your 'Go Bag' and Emergency Supply Kit

A "Go Bag" is a collection of items you may need in case of an emergency evacuation.

Every person in the house should have a "Go Bag" stocked and readily accessible in case you have to leave your home or office in a hurry. 

Your best option for the bag itself is a backpack, which leaved hands free so you can carry a flashlight, a cell phone, or hold the hand of a loved one.  A backpack on wheels or a rolling suitcase is a good alternative. 

Your "Go Bag" should contain:

Copies of your important documents in a waterproof Ziploc bags. Insurance cards, ID, proof of address, special family photos.

Extra house and car keys

Credit and ATM cards

Cash. Barb Brown, Community Board 2 CERT Deputy Team Chief, suggests carrying about $50 to $100 in small denominations.

Bottled water and nonperishable food. Energy and granola bars are good options.

At least one flashlight and extra batteries. (LED flashlights are more durable and last 10 times longer than traditional ones.)

A manual radio or battery-operated radio. Manual radios often have cell phone charging features, solar power options, flashlight, siren and compass.

Medical: Keep a list of medications for each family member, why they take it and the dosage. Pack along any extra medication, if you have it.

Extra eyeglasses, if you have them.

First Aid kit

Waterproof matches, Swiss Army knife, Sharpie markers to write ID info on children, rain ponchos, thermal blankets, extra socks and undies.

Feminine hygiene items, diapers, if you need them.

Small map of the region

Items to relieve anxiety: Playing cards are a good way to keep occupied – no batteries needed. 

Your Emergency Supply Kit

Your kit should contain items you and your household will need to shelter in place, meaning surviving on your own in your own home for at least three days.

Your household should know that this kit is for emergencies only, and you should check perishables for expiration dates and update your kit every six months.

When I change my clocks for Daylight Savings Time, I check my "Go Bags" and Emergency Supply Kit.

We are the primary caretakers of my husband's 101-year-old grandmother, so we keep a kit for her at our home, even thought she lives in another neighborhood.

Note: Many of these items in your Emergency Supply Kit will be in your "Go Bag." Don't forget to replace them if you use them!

Your Emergency Supply Kit should contain:

One gallon of drinking water per person, per day.

Nonperishable, ready-to-eat packaged and canned foods and a manual can opener.

First Aid Kit

Extra medications and instructions on dosage.

Flashlights, candles, matches

Manual radio or battery-operated radio and extra batteries.


Water purification tablets or a quart of unscented bleach to use as directed by the health department. An eyedropper to add bleach to water. The standard is 16 drops of bleach per one gallon of water.

Hygiene items

Childcare items

A phone that does not need electricity (noncordless) and a manual or solar cell phone charger. Your 'land line' provided by your cable company isn't likely to work in case of a power outage.

Make a Plan

Discuss emergency preparedness with your loved ones and create a plan for your family. 

Designate a location where you will meet that is not your home. Pick a street corner with a mailbox, a statue in a public park or another landmark.  Just choose a place that everyone in the family knows.

A list of Emergency Shelters in your neighborhood is online. Designate a location in NYC and outside of NYC.

Decide on a contact person outside of the tristate area.  NY phone systems may overload, and you will only get a busy signal.  Establish a number of a contact person outside our geographic region so you and your loved ones can communicate via messages through your agreed-on third party.

Don't forget to check on elderly and infirm neighbors.

Stay calm, stay informed

The OEM has plans in place for every kind of emergency.  Listen for their guidelines.

I read that in an emergency, about 80% of the population will slow down and follow the herd while 10% will freak out.  The other 10% will put their leadership skills into action and will respond to the emergency with skill and calmness. 

By reading this article, you are taking the first steps to making the best of a difficult situation.

Keep calm and carry on, my fellow New Yorkers!

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