| www.co.hunterdon.nj.us | Department of Health | 2008 Public Information & Notices
HUNTERDON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
ARE YOU READY? You’ve seen them — disturbing pictures from hurricane-ravaged Texas, but have you considered your own home and how prepared you are if a similar disaster occurred here? If not, those images from Galveston should provide strong motivation to get your own personal emergency plan in motion.
“Here in Hunterdon County, we are working together to promote preparedness and a stronger sense of awareness among residents,” said Bill Powell, coordinator of the county Officeof Emergency Management.
Joining Powell in that mission is Rose Puelle, director of Public Health Preparedness: While many businesses and government agencies take preparedness seriously and build it into their operations, too often residents do little to be ready should a sudden emergency occur. What we’re detecting as we survey residents and analyze national disasters of recent years is that where the general public does not adequately prepare for wide-scale crises, the emergency response organizations can be overwhelmed with people needing help with even the most basic health essentials. We all need to take personal responsibility now to help ensure our health and safety during a crisis.
The county offers a checklist called Plan 9 to help residents get prepared to stay at home, or what is known as “sheltering in place” in an emergency. To be able to survive indoors for a period of time, people should stock their homes with basic supplies. Plan 9 is a quick checklist of what these supplies should include and is featured on the county health department website (www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/health.htm) in recognition of September as National Preparedness Month.
The Plan 9 checklist says households should have: Bottled water—one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. Keep this water in a cool, dark place and refresh your supply every six months; food—a 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food per person, including ready-to-eat canned meat, fruit, vegetables, canned or boxed juices, powdered milk and soup, crackers, granola and trail mix; clothes—one change of clothes and footwear per person, including blankets, rain gear, and outerwear in case of inclement weather; medications—3 days worth of any prescription meds you are taking, but note the expiration date so you don’t keep them past their term; flashlight—keep a bright flashlight in case of power outages, and consider getting a lantern-style light for hands-free use; can opener—make sure it’s a manual opener in case there is no electricity, aand consider purchasing pull-top items when possible; radio—battery-powered or crank-style so you can stay tuned to news bulletins, and be sure to have extra batteries; hygiene items—just the essentials including soap, toilet paper, moist towelettes, toothbrush and paste; first aid—including antiseptic, gloves, bandages and non-prescription medicines.
Being prepared also means taking basic steps to be sure you can evacuate quickly if a disaster strikes.
Powell and Puelle stress that residents everywhere should consider the “what if” scenario—what if I need to leave my home in a hurry? Being prepared to leave your home promptly and possibly for some time involves gathering many of the same items you would for sheltering in place. Emergency supplies and essential documents such as insurance policies or medical information should be stored in a single location, making it easy to find and move them quickly during an evacuation.
If the order comes to evacuate, never ignore it, and remember to take only essential items with you. Follow any designated evacuation routes that are posted and expect heavy traffic. If you don’t have a vehicle, make transportation arrangements in advance with friends or family. Have a plan in place to communicate with family members if you become separated.
Advance plans should also be made to ensure pet wellbeing.
“We ask all Hunterdon County residents to think ‘communally,’” said Puelle.
If you have a neighbor who you know is in need of help, do what you can to help ensure their needs are covered. Discuss your emergency plan with them and see if they’ve made a plan, too. If you think they’ll need help during an emergency, let them know they can call on you.
“Although we have not recently had a major emergency like the ones we’re seeing in the media, we still urge residents to be prepared,” advised Puelle. “This means make a plan, make a kit with supplies ready to shelter at home or to evacuate quickly, and make an effort to stay informed.”