LES Ready: Preparing For Emergencies

Today we have a second installment of the LES Ready! Guide, a month-long series in collaboration with the Lower East Side Long Term Recovery Group, a coalition that formed following Hurricane Sandy.  Here’s Suzan Rosen of the Red Cross.  You’ll be able to read the entire series at thelodownny.com/les-ready.
Emergencies happen every day in NYC. Chances are you or someone you know will be affected by a disaster in some way. Maybe you’ve already been affected by a disaster and wonder what you might have done differently. Here are everyday steps you can take to prepare yourself to better face an emergency. For more detailed information, please visit www.redcross.org, http://www.nyc.gov/oem, or www.ready.gov.

STOCK UP! Get a Kit. Gather some basic supplies to keep in your home, for sheltering in place, as well as in an easy to grab Go Bag in case of evacuation.Sheltering in Place supplies include:

  • Flashlights, crank or battery operated, and/or battery operated lantern-type lights
  • Radios, crank or battery operated
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kits
  • Ready to eat non-perishable foods (canned tuna, beans, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter)
  • Water (at least 3 gallons per person per day, for 3 days or more, if you have the space)
  • Cash
  • Extra baby supplies
  • Pet food
  • Hygiene items such as toilet paper, etc.

Go Bags should include:

  • Flashlights, crank or battery operated (and/or battery operated lantern type lights)
  • Radios, crank or battery operated
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kits
  • Cash
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Contact lists
  • Medication Information.
  • Copies of important documents:
    • ID, passport, lease, insurance policies/cards, birth certificates, driver’s license, foreign citizenship papers, foreign education documents

Each individual in your household should have his or her own Go Bag.

Tip: Emergency supply kits, special emergency radios and flashlights, etc., are available on the web, but can be pricey. Visit your local big box and dollar stores for inexpensive backpacks, flashlights, radios, batteries. If gathering them at once is too much, commit to purchasing one or two items per week.

TALK TO EACH OTHER! Make a Plan. Make and practice evacuation plans and choose meeting places to regroup if you are separated. Discuss the possible emergencies and discuss how you would cope with them. Write your plan down, along with all important contact information and meeting place addresses. Make copies for each member of your family. Think about places where you could stay if asked to evacuate for some time.

If you live alone, talk to your neighbors and create a network; discuss how you can support each other if you had to evacuate or shelter in place. Take special needs into consideration.

STAY TUNED!  Be Informed. Maintain access to official announcements to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.

  • A battery or crank-operated radio could be your only source of accurate information during a prolonged power outage.
  • Designate an out-of-state contact who can relay messages between you and other family members in the disaster area in case local lines of communication are jammed.
    • This person may also start a phone tree to reassure other loved ones and inform them of your situation, saving you the stress of repeating your story to everyone in your extended family.
    • In NYC sign up to receive alerts from Notify NYC
    • Explore new American Red Cross apps including Hurricane, First Aid and Tornado apps, as well as other information and alert sources.
    • Take First Aid and CPR. In a major emergency first responders, ambulances and other resources are going to be stretched beyond capacity; having first aid and CPR skills can literally save a life. The American Red Cross is a lead provider of these trainings, but many other organizations offer such classes.

Special Tips for High Rise Building Dwellers:
If Emergency officials call for an evacuation, DO IT! Do not wait to become trapped on high floors with no power to the elevators.

If you live in a high rise apartment building, fill your bathtub (or large pots, etc.) with water to use for flushing and other hygiene purposes. Keep hand sanitizer available.

A headlamp type flashlight that leaves your hands free can be a tremendous asset in negotiating a dark stairwell, allowing you to carry items or assist another person.