September and October are considered the height of hurricane season, and Ocean County officials want to ensure that area residents know what to do before, during and after a major storm. “Hopefully we will never see the devastating effects of a storm like Sandy again, but even hurricanes that pack much less of a punch can cause devastation very quickly,” stated Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
“Preparedness can mean all the difference,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, liaison to the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management and director of Law and Public Safety.
Daniel E. Regenye, public health coordinator for the county, offered these basic preparedness tips:
• Know evacuation routes and have a plan for where to stay.
• Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first-aid supplies and copies of critical information to take if evacuating.
• If staying home rather than evacuating, have adequate supplies in case of loss of power and water, and in the event that roads are flooded or blocked.
• Have a family emergency communication plan.
“In addition,” said Regenye, “it is important to prepare your home. There are several things you can do to eliminate or minimize damage from a hurricane,” including the following:
• Before hurricane season, or when a hurricane is approaching, check the property and, if necessary, trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.
• Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to help prevent water damage.
• Retrofit to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
• Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages.
As the county officials pointed out, September is National Preparedness Month, and Little pointed to the importance of the family emergency communication plan. “Many of our communication networks, such as mobile phones and computers, could be unreliable during disasters and electricity could be disrupted,” he noted. “Planning for any type of disaster or emergency helps ensure that all the members of your household, including children and people with disabilities, know how to reach each other and where to meet up in an emergency.”
Regenye advises that children be made aware of emergency plans, as disasters can strike during school or work hours.
“It is also suggested that you identify someone outside of your community or state who can act as a central point of contact to help your household reconnect,” said Brian Rumpf, director of administration for the county health department. “In a disaster, it may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call locally, as the local phone lines could be jammed.”
As Regenye added, a family communication plan should also include phone numbers for emergency services, utilities, service providers, medical providers, veterinarian, insurance companies and other services.