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  • Know your Zone: Hurricane Preparedness in the Big Apple

    Know your Zone: Hurricane Prep in the Big Apple

    At the beginning of June, my hometown’s major league baseball team geared up for its annual trouncing by the New York Yankees. Which is why it pains me to say that I’ve discovered something really useful and positive coming out of New York this summer. I’ll be big and put my fanaticism behind me because this is really cool.

    It’s a branch of New York City’s government website called “Know Your Zone,” and it’s a combination of compiled resources and awareness-raising branding, all related to hurricane preparedness. The gist of New York’s hurricane preparation program is the division of the region into evacuation zones, all color-coded on bright and legible maps, and putting in place smooth communication systems to take care of each zones’ residents in the event of a storm.

    As far as I’m concerned, the genius of the site is the way it collects loads of information from several different offices and pages into one place—a sort of one-stop-shopping experience for hurricane preparedness.

    The main page is divided into three sections, with hurricane and evacuation FAQs at the bottom, and useful links and downloads in the middle, including these really smartly designed virtual badges for local businesses’ websites.

     Zone pic

    The top bit, though, is where the real meat is. Large, graphic buttons, with titles like “Find Your Zone,” and “Make a Plan,” send you to other nyc.gov sites, where you can access resources like hurricane evacuation maps or the Office of Emergency Management’s videos and checklists. One of the buttons even shoots you over to the “Notify New York” program, where you can enroll to receive emergency updates via email, voicemail, or text.

     

    What I love so much about this is that it feels like a neighborhood emergency plan, but on a city-wide scale. Anything that serves the dual purpose of preparedness education and bringing communities together in a common effort gets my vote. Even if it does come from Yankee territory.

     

    What does your hometown have in place to deal with large-scale emergencies?

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events, hurricanes

  • Hurricane Sandy: One Year Later, Thousands Still Displaced

    Flooded house after heavy rain in the evening sunlight.

    “For Kathryn Fitzgerald and her young daughter, Megan, home was a modest three-bedroom house…on a tightly packed segment of Delaware Avenue two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. That was the only home that Megan had ever known, until Hurricane Sandy hit and a rank mixture of floodwater and untreated sewage rose to chest-high in the lower level of the house.

    “Since then, they have lived in rental apartments and Megan, now 9, attended an unfamiliar school in another town for a while as her mother appealed for enough aid to rebuild the life they had…

    “More than a year after one of the country’s largest-ever disaster recovery efforts began, Ms. Fitzgerald is among the more than 30,000 residents of New York and New Jersey who remain displaced by the storm, mired in a bureaucratic and financial limbo.”

     

    Every year, big storms capture national attention with images of wild weather and large-scale destruction. But when the skies calm and the cameramen pack up and leave town, residents are left to the long, lonely process of returning to normal. Hurricane Sandy may be fading from popular consciousness; but for the victims, fourteen months into the recovery, the disaster is ongoing.

    Kathryn Fitzgerald is just one of a handful of displaced homeowners in the American Northeast interviewed recently by the New York Times—and her story is a representative and cautionary one. Victim after victim reports the difficulty of securing funds to rebuild, whether from government aid agencies or by other means.

    While we talk a lot about the immediate, life-sustaining preparations needed to weather extreme situations, sometimes the most important emergency preparation is financial. Read the full NYT article here to see what a tangled mess of red tape is holding up these people’s efforts to rebuild their lives. Then check out the links below to learn more about financial preparation for disasters. Finally, take another look at our blog post on flood preparedness to learn more about insurance options. Whether it's another storm like Hurricane Sandy, a sudden downpour that causes flooding like that in Colorado earlier this year, or another scenario altogether, you'll be so glad you've prepared in advance.

     

    New York Times article originally found via Instapundit.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: financial preparedness, flood preparedness, flood, hurricanes, insurance

  • Hurricane Season 2013

    Today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center stated that “there is a 70 percent likelihood” that there will be three to six major hurricanes this year with winds above 111 mph. Forecasters suggest that “A year after Superstorm Sandy, residents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts should prepare for ‘an extremely active’" 2013 hurricane season.

    With this forecast in mind, Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA acting administrator, stated Thursday, "Take time to refresh your hurricane preparedness plan . . . bottom line is become weather-ready now—that means starting today."

    Since 2013’s Hurricane season begins on June 1st, now is the time to prepare for a Hurricane. Here are some basic items that you should consider collecting to prepare you for the upcoming storm season:

    Hurricane Kit Supplies:

    Emergency Kit

    First Aid Kit

    Food Storage (have enough for several weeks)

    Water Storage Supply

    Radio (include extra batteries)

    Tools

    Rain Ponchos

    Sanitation Supplies

     

    For a more comprehensive list of items to include in your Hurricane Kit, take a look at our Hurricane Checklists for before, during, and after the storm.

    Our 5-part mini-series on Hurricane preparedness also provides additional information on things to consider while preparing for a hurricane.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: hurricane preparedness, hurricanes

  • Get Prepared and Give Back

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    Many of you have been asking how you can help those affected by Superstorm Sandy. Well, here’s a way we can all help out:

    Emergency Essentials has teamed up with Goal Zero to promote their ‘You Buy One, We Give One’ relief program. Goal Zero will match every purchase—dollar for dollar—with relief in the form of Goal Zero solar recharging kits.
    All Goal Zero products count toward this program. So if you’ve been thinking about buying a solar power pack, solar panels, or even some lights or speakers to go with your existing Goal Zero products, now is the time. You’ll not only get the products you need and want, but you’ll help restore power to those who need it most.
    Hurry! Program ends November 15th.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: solar power, hurricanes

  • Staying Charged and Connected in a Major Disaster

    New Yorkers gather around power strips to charge cell phones
    in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

    Superstorm Sandy left millions of northeasterners without power, some of whom may have to wait more than a week before it’s restored.1 Lack of power to charge important electronic communication devices like cell phones, smart phones, and laptops are among the many problems caused by the lack of electricity.

    Many people in affected areas are relying on generators to keep their cell phones and laptops charged, and Wi-Fi hotspots or businesses with Wi-Fi to stay connected to the internet. One major carrier has set up mobile charging stations around New York City2 and local officials in other affected cities have set up designated charging stations. Throughout these cities, people can be seen huddled around generators  Wi-Fi hotspots.
    New Yorkers gather near a building with 
    working Wi-Fi.

    It’s no surprise that communication is a high priority in the aftermath of this major disaster. For those who know where to find power and internet service, it’s possible to stay connected. But many people are still without phone or internet service. To make sure you
    always have power for your electronic devices, here are some items you may want
    to add to your emergency kit:
    The GoalZero™ Nomad 7m Solar Panel is a small, portable folding solar panel capable of charging devices through USB or 12-volt cables. This can charge a cellphone, smartphone, mp3 player, and other small devices. It also has an optional 12V car charger adapter. The 7-Watt solar panel charges a cell phone in 1-2 hours. It’s 6” x 9” x 1” folded and 19” x 9” x 1”
    unfolded and weighs 13 oz. If you had to evacuate, you could easily carry it in
    you emergency kit.


     
    The GoalZero™ Guide™ 10 Plus Power Pack allows you to charge NiMH AA batteries from a USB power source or from
    the sun in as little as 1.5 hours using the Nomad 7 solar panel. It’s about the same size as a cell phone, so it’s easy to carry. You can use this Power Pack to charge a cell phone 1-3 times if the pack itself is fully charged. You can use the included rechargeable batteries to power other battery operated items.
    It even has a built in LED flashlight that can run up to 20 hours  on a full charge.
    Goal Zero™ also makes larger solar panels and power packs, some powerful enough to run a
    refrigerator. Whether you use a smaller unit to charge your cell phone, or a larger one to power appliances or medical equipment, you’ll be better off in a major disaster if you have a way to stay powered up and  connected. 

     

    1 CNN Wire.  “'A loss for everybody': Communities start cleanup afterSandy.”  31 October 2012.   CNN.com. Web.  Accessed 1 November 2012.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: communication, solar power, emergency power, hurricanes

  • Emergency Kits Bring Confidence in Face of Storm

    Our customer service team received the following email from a customer in Massachusetts on Tuesday morning. Hearing stories like this—and helping give people the confidence she mentions—is exactly why we love helping people prepare.

    It’s Tuesday morning and all is quiet here. We are fine as is my Emergency Essentials Bug-out Bag with the emergency medical items I need.  It was simply amazing to have that bag arrive Friday in time to pack for [Hurricane] Sandy.
    My grandchildren away at college have also tested their Emergency Essentials Bug-out Bags—as has my husband. Again, they are all warm, safe, etc. and they have what they need to weather not just safely, but appropriately and pretty comfortably.
     Once again, just knowing they were “all set” was a tremendous peace of mind. They knew they were “set” as well, so they could sit back, catch up on study, sleep, etc. without worrying.
    I do want you guys to know that all the emergency people who check on us look at how [my emergency kit] is packed, smile, and seem to derive great relief from just seeing the big red bag. It’s one more person they don’t have to worry about. Apparently most people don’t prepare in advance here, so we’re people they can cross off their list unless something really unusual happens.  [emphasis added]
    Emergency Essentials (R) 3-Day Emergency Kit
    She mentions two specific points I think are important:
    1. Having emergency kits and the items customized to their needs gave her and her family the confidence they needed to face the storm—and allowed them to do so in relative comfort in their area.
    2. Having the items you need to support yourself in an emergency frees up emergency personnel to help those who are injured, separated from loved ones, or have other needs that require assistance from professionals.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with those still being impacted by Sandy, and those who are starting recovery efforts in her wake.
    --Sarah

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency kits, hurricanes

  • Resource: Google Crisis Map

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    In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Google Crisis Map is a useful tool for finding emergency shelters, information about power outages, FEMA disaster declared areas, traffic conditions, and more.  The web page is a Google map with a search box in the upper left corner where you can search for a specific city or state.
    To the right of the map are a series of check boxes that when checked reveal icons and other imagery on the map. For example, you can click on a pink dot icon on the map to get information on a local Red Cross shelter (see image above).
    Having this and other information can help you, or someone you know in an affected area, get critical information. 

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: resources, hurricanes

  • Hurricane Sandy Headed for Atlantic City

    Storm surges from Hurricane Sandy have already caused significant flooding in Atlantic City, NJ today and the unprecedented storm is projected to make landfall there sometime tonight according to ABC News. GreenwichTime.com reported that city officials continue to sweep the city for those who didn’t evacuate Sunday according to the evacuation orders given. If you’re in the storm’s path, stay safe and be sure to follow local evacuation orders.


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: hurricanes

  • Is Hurricane Sandy Headed Your Way?

     

    If you’ve been watching the news, you already know that hurricane Sandy is gaining strength and she’s headed toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast US coastal areas.
    If you live in an area that may be impacted by Sandy—anywhere from Virginia to Boston— check your emergency kits and fill your car with gas so you can be prepared to evacuate if the time comes that you’re asked by the authorities to do so. And stock up on supplies that will keep you warm, fed, and hydrated if you have to evacuate or shelter in place without utilities for a while.
    Some supplies we suggest having on hand:

    More steps you can take right now while everyone waits to see what Sandy will do:

    • Fill your tank. Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full so you can evacuate quickly if needed—lines at the gas station will be long, and stations can quickly run out of gas if deliveries are interrupted.
    • Evacuation location. Reach out to anyone who has agreed to host you in case of an evacuation to see if they are still on board.
    • If you don’t have a host already in place, reach out to family and friends out of the hurricane area to see if they would be willing to let you stay with them if you’re required to evacuate
    • Stock up on water and food storage if you don’t already have them.
    • Prepare for disrupted utilities. Get alternate sources of light, warmth, and communication in case utilities are cut off.
    • Extra clothes. Put some extra changes of clothes in your kit so you’ll have warm, dry clothing options if you have to go out in the storm.
    • Coordinate. Talk to your family members, roommates, or neighbors about your evacuation and sheltering-in-place plans—coordinate any neighborhood efforts that may have already been established to be sure everyone is still on the same page. 
    There are several resources available to track the path Sandy is following—and your local authorities will certainly be keeping you up to date if you live in Sandy’s potential path.
    [Click here] to check the predicted path hurricane Sandy will follow. (weather.com)
    You can also [click here] to see a Google map of Sandy’s path and locations of active shelters in your region.
    Are you in an area that could be affected? What are you doing to prepare? We’re praying and crossing our fingers that Sandy heads back out to sea, but do everything you can to get ready—it will give you more confidence should a crisis occur.
    For more information on Hurricane Preparedness, check out the mini-series we published earlier this year:
    Part One  --  Part Two  --  Part Three  --  Part Four  --  Part Five
    --Sarah

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: hurricane preparedness, hurricanes

  • Hurricane Preparedness Mini-Series - Part Five: After The Storm

    |3 COMMENT(S)

    Summer hurricane season is here, and as long as a storm isn’t right on your doorstep, there’s still time to prepare. These five installments about hurricane preparedness will remind you of ways to stay safe and secure before, during, and after one of these destructive storms.

    Part Five: After the Storm

    Once a hurricane has fully passed, you may be surprised at how quickly the sun comes out, causing steam to rise from the soaked and flooded land.

    If you have evacuated, do not attempt to go home until the authorities have said that it’s safe to do so. You may be met with washed-out bridges and roads, flooded areas, and a home that is unsafe. If you know or suspect that your neighborhood was severely affected, check with local authorities or the Red Cross to find out when you should go home. Once you’re there, observe the same precautions as those who stayed home (outlined below).

    If you successfully rode out the storm at home, be cautious when venturing outside. Continue to listen to your radio and don’t go out if local authorities advise against it.

    Check your home for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear it hissing as it escapes, turn it off at the main valve if you didn’t do so before the storm. Report it to the gas company immediately—or to any authorities you can reach—and keep your family outside and away from the house until it is declared safe. Do not light any flames or start a car anywhere near the house. Gas mains require a professional to turn gas service back on; DO NOT attempt to do this yourself!

    If you suspect sewer mains have been damaged, try to call a plumber or your city utilities number. If you see sparks or broken wires in your home, turn off your electricity at the main panel, even if your power is still out. Don’t drink, wash, or cook with tap water until you hear from authorities that it is safe to do so.

    Other potential dangers include downed power lines that can cause electrocution if you step into water where live wires are submerged. Do not step or drive over downed wires or otherwise go near them. Report them to local authorities, especially if you live in an out-of-the-way area where they might not have been discovered yet. Don’t attempt to drive anywhere until the roads are cleared of trees and debris, and you know they are not washed out, flooded, or so muddy that you would get stuck. Many roads and bridges may be damaged and unsafe. Give the authorities a chance to get around and evaluate the situation. Be patient with all local authorities and emergency services, as they will be overwhelmed.

    Watch for displaced wildlife. The storm will have disturbed the habitat of snakes, alligators, and other reptiles as well as woodland mammals such as deer, bears, wild hogs, skunks, rabbits, raccoons, and possums, sending them fleeing into neighborhoods they would normally avoid. Most will be nervous and agitated. For that matter, so will domesticated animals and pets that have been out in the weather. Even dogs and cats that are normally friendly may be terrified and hostile after such an experience. Be wary of contact with them, even if you long to comfort and feed them. Don’t allow your kids to splash around in ponds and puddles or flooded areas, as you don’t know what reptiles may have taken refuge in them—or what sharp pieces of debris may be submerged. If you have a swimming pool or pond on your property, check that for unwelcome visitors, too! Be watchful of your own pets if they are with you, so that they don’t tangle with the wildlife.

    When it’s safe to do so, check on any neighbors who also stayed home, and give or call for aid if necessary.

    Evaluate and report any damage to your home or property to your insurance company. Take “after” pictures. (Don’t forget your roof, where shingles may be missing.)

    As soon as you have phone service and immediate emergency concerns have been met, let your relatives and out-of-town contact know that you are alive and (hopefully) well and safe. They’ll be concerned.

    Take down your shutters or boards, open your windows and doors, and let your house air out to prevent mold and mildew from growing. If water invaded your house, do your best to remove it as soon as possible. If upholstered furniture or mattresses got soaked, pull them out into the yard or driveway to dry. They may or may not be salvageable.

    It may take a while before everything returns to normal in your area, so be prepared for the long haul. If you have food storage of freeze-dried, dehydrated, ready-to-eat, or canned foods, you may need to depend on them for the duration. It’s handy to have a charcoal or gas grill, a couple of flat-fold stoves with cans of fuel, or a similar alternative cooking method to heat up or rehydrate foods. If you can boil water and have a thermos, you can cook pasta, oatmeal, or wheat cereal by letting it soak in the hot water till done. Be sparing in the use of the water you stored in your tubs and containers before the storm, just in case it’s a while before your service is restored.

    Just because a storm has passed doesn’t mean all danger is over—remember these tips, and be careful as you return home or venture outside to assess damage, make repairs, check on neighbors, and help rebuild your community.

     

    See more articles in this series:

    Part One: Advance Planning and Preparation

    Part Two: Prepare Your Home, Pets, and Property

    Part Three: Under a Hurricane Watch

    Part Four: Under a Hurricane Warning

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: hurricane preparedness, hurricanes

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