OSWEGO COUNTY – September is National Preparedness Month, an annual observance to remind all Americans how important it is for individuals, families and communities to be prepared for disasters and emergencies that can happen at any time. This year’s theme, ‘Prepare to Protect,’ highlights how preparing for disaster protects everyone.
“We’ve dealt with emergencies and disasters such as those caused by flooding, high wind and severe weather,” said Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup. “We have seen these events last a few minutes, a few days, or several weeks; and we know the long-term effects can last even longer than that. It is through early planning and preparation that we can improve our community’s ability to withstand a disaster and boost our recovery efforts.”
Cathleen Palmitesso, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office added, “Planning before an emergency occurs is the best way to improve our community’s recovery from disasters. When individuals take responsibility for preparing their families and their communities, the chance of survival and return to normalcy following a disaster is greatly increased.”
Palmitesso urged people to follow the steps offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the website www.ready.gov and make a plan for their families. “Meet with your family and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills and others,” she said. “Know what to do in each type of emergency and know how to contact your family members at all times.”
Plans should be tailored for specific needs in a household, such as care of children, pets and elderly. “Create your own personal network for areas where you need assistance,” Palmitesso said. “Keep in mind things like dietary needs, medical needs including prescriptions and equipment, disabilities or access, and functional needs including devices, equipment and languages spoken. Don’t forget your pets; have plans for them if you need to leave your home for several days.”
Family emergency plan templates are available online at www.ready.gov.
Palmitesso also urged people to build a kit with disaster supplies for at least three days. “You could be without power or essential services for up to a week or more following a severe weather event,” she said. “Kits should include water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered or crank AM/FM radio, a flashlight, extra batteries and copies of important documents.”
Disaster supplies kits should be kept in a designated place and easy to grab if people must leave their home quickly. An emergency kit for the car should include jumper cables, flares or a reflective triangle, an ice scraper, a car cell phone charger, a blanket, a map and cat litter or sand for better tire traction.
“Make sure your cell phone is well charged when poor weather conditions are imminent,” Palmitesso said. “People should also make sure their cell phone numbers are registered with the Oswego County E-911 Communication Center’s Hyper-Reach notification service.”
Hyper-Reach uses mass dialing technology to notify people of emergencies or incidents in their neighborhoods. People can register their cell phones through the center’s website, https://secure.hyper-reach.com/comsignup.jsp?id=12481.
“Flooding and weather-related events have resulted in disaster declarations throughout New York State this summer,” Palmitesso said. “Thankfully, Oswego County has been mostly spared; however, with winter coming and more severe weather threats predicted across the nation, I urge everyone to be prepare now to protect their families and loved ones.”