Are you Prepared for Hurricane Joaquin?
You should always be prepared for a disaster and with Hurricane Joaquin expected to impact New Jersey with flooding and high winds, now is the time to have an emergency plan in place and a supply kit ready.
Laura Connolly, Public Information Officer for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM),stressed the importance of communicating a plan with family members and having important items needed for basic survival.
Emergency kits should include water and at least a five day supply of non-perishable food for the entire family, a flashlight, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries, and medications for individuals with special needs, according to Connolly.
"Check with their doctor. Obviously, there's some medications that can't be stored in a dry place, it has to be refrigerated. These are the kind of things you want to think about ahead of time so that you're not scrambling," said Connolly.
Connolly advised having necessary bathroom supplies, especially for those that might be in an area without the ability to flush toilets during a power outage.
Important phone numbers stored in cell phones should be written down and Connolly suggested keeping an electronic copy of critical documents and policies.
"One thing that we recommend is, any important insurance policies that you have, scan them, email them to yourself. Flood insurance policy, homeowner insurance policy, auto insurance policy, boat insurance policy, anything like that, send to yourself, so that in the event of a disaster you have copies of everything," said Connolly.
Connolly provided some tips to help make your cell phone battery last longer during a power outage, including investing in a battery pack that can charge the mobile device.
"Texting is best because it uses less power. You can also, in the settings on your phone, you can dim the brightness on the screen. That will increase the life of your battery on your phone, and just turn it on when you need it or put it on airplane mode, so that it's not using all the WiFi that will kill the battery," she said.
Teaching the older population and grandparents how to text a simple message to alert family members that they are safe and to provide their location also is important, pointed out Connolly.
"In the event of an emergency, phone calls may not go through over your cell phone, but text messages are more likely to go through," said Connolly.
Family members also should pick a designated meeting spot during disaster situations.
The American Red Cross also provides emergency preparedness tips at www.redcross.orgprepare.
Diane Concannon, Communications Director for the Red Cross New Jersey region, said the organization also has a free Red Cross Emergency App that can be downloaded onto smart phones and tablets.
"On the app itself, it will give you the information about what to do before, during and after a storm, and you'll have that information available to you right in the palm of your hand," said Concannon. She added that app also includes information about shelters and the 'I'm Safe' and 'Family Safe' features.
"Take for example the 'I'm Safe" feature, you can preset your contacts, whether it be via email, text message, social media, present those into your phone, into the app, so that if there should be a disaster, at the touch of a button, you can send a message to all of your contacts letting them know you're safe," Concannon said.
Concannon also pointed out when creating a family plan, it's a good idea to have someone outside the area serve as the family contact.
"Sometimes from inside the disaster it's easier to call outside," she said.
In the event of an evacuation, she added it's also important to decide ahead of time where your family will go and to keep pets in mind during the planning process as well as including food and supplies for pets when stocking emergency kits.