FREEHOLD, NJ — In observance of National Preparedness Month, Monmouth County is encouraging residents to “Know Your Zone” before a weather emergency occurs.

The Know Your Zone initiative was implemented by the county’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) two years ago to educate residents, visitors and businesses about coastal evacuation zones. Know Your Zone is the first of its kind in New Jersey and is directly connected to the Monmouth County’s Coastal Evacuation Plan.

It allows OEM to direct any evacuation instructions to those that are at the greatest risk of experiencing storm surge during major coastal storms in protection of lives and property. The tiered system creates four distinct zones — A, B, C and D — and allows for clearer and more decisive messaging when evacuations are needed. As the public becomes aware of which zone they are in, evacuation messaging will be directed toward a specific zone.

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“Sharing information and communicating are vital pieces when dealing and working in emergency management,” said Mike Oppegaard, Monmouth County Office of Emergency management coordinator. “National Preparedness Month makes it easier and more accessible for people and communities to get involved and review how to prepare and react should they be faced with a disaster or emergency.”

Residents also are urged to verify that they have the proper insurance to cover their home or business from damages as a result of a storm or other emergency.

Another way the sheriff’s office assists the public in disaster preparedness is through its STORM (Seniors Taking on Readiness Measures) program, created as a result of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. It equips those who are among the most vulnerable populations with emergency preparedness information, assists them in providing a family disaster plan and provides them with an emergency kit.

To keep up with the most up-to-date information, residents can like or follow the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office on social media through Facebook (Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office), Twitter (@MonmouthSheriff) and Instagram (monmouthsheriff) and can download the agency’s application for smartphones.

“It can be challenging during emergency situations to provide consistent, official messages to a large group of residents. In addition to social media and our website, which are updated regularly, this app is another tool to keep the public informed that we encourage all residents to utilize,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shawn Golden.

The app provides instant access to sheriff’s office-related information, which includes real-time emergency notifications through its integrated push notification system that automatically displays the message on the phone.

Users are able to be instantly alerted to weather, or other emergency related situations, from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Management. The OEM section of the app has been expanded to include important information regarding the warning signs of hurricanes, tornadoes and flash floods as well as other weather related events. To download the free Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office app, visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

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