By Middlesex County Freeholder Ron Rios
Personal preparedness is crucial for you and your family to be able to manage through an emergency, especially at times when you lose power or will be stuck in your home for several days.
One of the major lessons learned during and after Hurricane Katrina was that the first responder community will be just as severely impacted as everyone else and may not be able to get to you. The police, fire, and EMS resources that are still operational will need to deal with life threatening issues first.
If you are able to stay in your home it is possible that you may need to provide for your family for 72 hours and maybe even longer until some essential services can be restored. Some of the basic items you should have available are: drinking water (3 gallons per day for each member of your family), non-perishable food that doesn’t require a microwave or oven to heat (remember, you may not have power), medication, a portable, battery-operated radio and flashlights or lanterns. Do not use candles. Candles and any open flame can be a significant fire hazard.
If you must evacuate your home quickly, you should have a “go kit” prepared. This kit should include items such as: food, clothing, toiletries, medications, spare eye glasses, important documents such as your Social Security card and identifications, and possibly even sleeping bags. If you have a pet, make sure you have food and any medications it may need as part of your “go kit.”
If you have family or friends out of the affected area and travel is not restricted, it may be a good idea to travel there or meet up with other family members if you are separated. If your family is not all together, you will need to have a communications plan, especially if telephone and cell phone service is interrupted. Information and communication are critical during emergencies.
Middlesex County currently has an Emergency Notification System that sends voice messages to people in affected areas. The County also has a self-registry for emergency messaging via e-mail or text. Middlesex County Alert allows the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management to send e-mail and text messages instantaneously to anyone who has registered as a user. Simply log in to www.unitedalert.com/middlesex to create a user name and to sign up as a Middlesex County Alert client. The service is free, only text messaging charges will apply if your carrier charges you for those services.
Please remember to be prepared and have a plan, the well-being of your family may depend on it.
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