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Below are five key areas that will help you evaluate your emergency preparedness strengths and needs, and assess where you might be able to improve your preparedness, whether it be from a pandemic or a hurricane:
1. Making a Plan
Your planning process should include everyone in your household. This will give everyone an opportunity to feel that their voice and concerns are considered, as well as ensuring that they are aware of what needs to be accomplished during an emergency. Once you have gathered your household, whether it’s over dinner or sitting around in the evening, discuss the following four questions:
How will we receive emergency alerts and warnings?
You may rely on getting your emergency information on your favorite news app or social media page; however, there are other resources that may be more reliable during an emergency. Notify NYC is New York City’s dedicated emergency public communications program, issuing messages by email, text or phone when there is a significant event in New York City. To receive these messages, subscribe by going to nyc.gov/notifynyc.
What is our shelter plan?
Understanding the hazards that may threaten you is the first step in understanding where you will shelter in an emergency. The type of emergency will dictate if you will be required to evacuate and seek shelter (i.e. – coastal storm, flooding, etc.) or stay within your home and shelter-in-place (i.e. – chemical spill, pandemic, etc.). When thinking about where you will go if you are required to evacuate, consider making arrangements to stay with friends or family outside the affected area. If that is not possible, New York City may open shelters throughout the five boroughs in the event of a city-wide emergency; you can find your closest evacuation center and shelter by going to www.nyc.gov/knowyourzone.
What is our evacuation route?
Whether it’s a house fire or a flooding event, there may be a time you will have to evacuate your home. You and your household should identify how you will evacuate, both out of your home and out of the affected area. Take time to map out routes from each of the rooms in your home, as well as mapping the route you would take to get to the shelter you have selected. Once you have identified your route to your shelter location, discuss what transportation you will use to get there. Do you have your own car, or would you need to use mass transit? Could you call a friend to transport you or would you need a car service or a taxi? Answer these questions before an emergency takes place.
What is the family/household communication plan?
Take the time to write down important numbers such as emergency contacts, as well as insurance and utility company emergency hotlines and keep them in a location where you can gain access to them quickly. It is also common in a city-wide emergency or disaster for the cell phone circuits to be overwhelmed. You should have at least two emergency contacts, one near-by and one out of town.
Documenting your Plan
Once you have gathered the above information, you should write it all down. You may choose to use a template, such as the Ready New York My Emergency Plan + Hurricane and New York guide; or you may simply use a notebook or type and print it out. Remember to have a back-up of your plan, either by storing it digitally on a flash drive or using a planning app such as the Ready NYC app. The latter has both an Apple iOS version and an Android version, depending on which phone platform you prefer.
2. Build a Kit
Whether you are asked to evacuate or shelter-in-place, you will need supplies in an emergency. Your emergency kit should be tailored to meet your needs and prepare you to survive at least 72-hours on your own. You should also develop a go-bag, which will contain items you and your family will need if you are asked to evacuate and find safety quickly. For r information on building an emergency kit or go-bag, you may find more information at Ready.gov Build a Kit page.
3. Preparing for a Disaster
Emergencies and disasters can have great financial impacts on you. Having the appropriate insurance (i.e. – flood, homeowner’s, renter’s, etc.) will help you recover financially. Consideration should also be given to ensure you have copies of your important documents in safe, secure places such as your go-bag or a security box. Watch NYC Emergency Management’s Preparedness Tips – Take Charge of Your Finances video to learn more ways to take care of your property before disaster strikes.
4. Teaching Youth about Preparedness
Talking about disasters and emergencies with children can be difficult, as these topics can be frightening. Using resources, such as NYCEM’s Ready Girl comic book, can help teach children how to be part of preparing the household for emergencies. Children are never too young to learn emergency preparedness; knowing their name, address, phone number, how to get to the family meeting place and how to dial 911 are all basic safety skills that children should know.
5. Further Planning
The steps and tips in this message are only intended to start your path to emergency preparedness. There are many resources that we have not discussed here that are available to you. Take time this over this month to review FEMA’s Ready.gov for additional tips and planning resources such as the Family Emergency Communication Guide and Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies.