With the arrival today of National Preparedness Month, County Executive George Latimer is reminding residents once again to take practical steps be prepared for hurricanes and other severe weather that might occur this fall and winter.

“September is both National Preparedness Month and Hurricane Preparedness Month. These designations are another reminder that we should continue to take practical precautions to be ready for any type of natural disaster or severe weather. As Tropical Storm Isaias recently showed us, severe weather can knock down trees and power lines and cause flooding and other impacts that can last for many days after a storm has passed.”

He said residents may have used their emergency supplies during Isaias and he urged them to replenish their stockpile of batteries, canned or packaged foods, and other items that are useful to have if you have to shelter-in-place without power. He also said residents should have a go-bag ready in the event they have to leave their homes on short notice for any type of emergency.

Commissioner John M. Cullen of the Department of Emergency Services (DES) said hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, followed by the arrival of the of the winter storm season. 

He recommended that people create a disaster preparedness kit that includes: one gallon of water per person per day; a three-day supply of canned, packaged or other foods that do not need refrigeration or need to be cooked; a manual can opener and eating utensils; flashlights and batteries; a first aid kit; and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio.

Foods that can be stored include ready-to-eat canned meats and fish; protein or fruit bars; dry cereal and granola; peanut butter; nuts; crackers and canned fruit juice.

Cullen said residents can do the following to enhance their preparedness:

  • Make a plan
    • Begin by creating a personal support network and developing a communications plan with friends and family.  Put the plan in writing and share it. Consider the needs of pets or service animals.
  • Build a kit
    • Ensure that your kit has all the items you may need if asked to evacuate or shelter-in-place.
    • If you already have an emergency preparedness kit or go-bag, be sure to check expiration dates and re-stock as needed, including medications and food products. Have copies of important documents.
  • Be informed
    • Know the hazards to which your community is most vulnerable and take steps to mitigate damage to your property in advance.  
    • Know how you can access official information and instructions in an emergency, such as official websites and social media accounts as well as traditional media outlets.  
  • Get involved
    • Before disaster strikes consider volunteering for the County Medical Reserve Corps, your local Community Emergency Response Team or the American Red Cross.
    • In an emergency; remember family, friends and neighbors who may need additional assistance, such as older adults or someone with a disability.

Sherlita Amler, MD, commissioner of the Department of Health, said food safety and generator safety are essential during any power outage or emergency.

If you lose power, she said here’s how to ensure you feed your family safely:

  • Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. Do not assume refrigerated foods are safe. If food is still fully frozen, it is safe to use.
  • Foods that have warmed to room temperature for more than two hours or have come into contact with flood waters should be discarded. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • During a prolonged outage, these foods are potentially hazardous if not stored below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and should be discarded: meat, poultry, seafood, cold cuts, hot dogs, eggs, cream, sour cream, yogurt, milk, custards, puddings, soft and shredded cheeses, cut fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta, casseroles, unbaked cookie and bread dough, gravy, creamy salad dressings, fish sauces, hoisin sauce, opened spaghetti sauce and garlic in oil.
  • After disposing of spoiled food, disinfect the refrigerator to avoid further contamination.
  • Discard any cans of food that are rusted, dented or opened.
  • If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.
  • Storm clean-up can produce a great deal of garbage, which invites insects and rodents. Store your garbage in watertight, rodent/insect-proof containers with tight-fitting covers.

Residents and business owners with generators are reminded of the following safety tips:

  • Never run a generator in a basement, garage, porch or carport. Generators produce carbon monoxide that can quickly be lethal indoors.  Only operate a generator outdoors and away from open windows.
  • Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading your generator can damage it and any appliances connected to it. Fire may result.
  • If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.

If you lose power, call Con Edison or NYS Electric and Gas directly. The phone numbers are: Con Ed power outage or gas and electrical service problems: (800) 75-CONED; NYSEG electricity power outage: (800) 572-1131; NYSEG gas power outage: (800) 572-1121.