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Hurrricane Harvey Teaches Valuable Lesson: Expect and Prepare for the Worst

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National Preparedness Month display in Somerville Borough Hall. Credits: Courtesy Somerville OEM
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SOMERVILLE, NJ - September is National Preparedness Month, with a multitude of federal, state and local agencies asking the question: Do You Have a Plan?

This year’s campaign is titled “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” It is a call to action to think ahead and look beyond batteries and flashlights when making emergency preparedness plans for family members and pets.

With the ongoing devastation in Texas, we are all reminded that you can never be too prepared to deal with what we all hope will never happen," reads a statement from the borough's Office of Emergency Management.

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If disaster strikes, access to food, water or electricity may be limited.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of U.S. adults do not have the resources and plans in place for a potential emergency.  Sitting down and developing a communication plan with family and preparing emergency supply kits can help make emergencies less stressful, according to the CDC.

The Somerville Office of Emergency Management will be pushing out a reminders and resources over the next 30 days in an effort to get everyone to prepare for the unexpected.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens and first responders serving in Texas." the OEM statement continues." Do these brave men and women a favor and plan today. You get ready for a lot of things in life, shouldn’t emergencies be one of them? During an emergency, it is easy to feel helpless. The best strategy to handle emergency situations is to prepare for the unexpected to the best of your ability."



“The goal of National Preparedness Month is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies throughout the year,” said Freeholder Patricia L Walsh, public health and safety liaison. “In New Jersey, hurricane season runs through November, but other disasters can happen at any time. That is why being prepared is essential.

“Recent events in Texas are a stark reminder of how devastating hurricanes can be,” she said.  “We can’t plan for every contingency, but we can minimize the effects of a disaster with careful planning and communication with loved ones.”

At the county level, National Preparedness Month is being promoted by the Somerset County Public Health & Safety Department, which includes the Department of Health and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

The Department of Health and OEM offer these suggestions:

- Gather emergency supplies, including at least a three-day supply of food and water, health supplies, personal-care items, safety supplies, electronics and important documents;

- Make a plan of how you will contact loved ones and what steps you would take in different emergency situations; 

- Stay informed:  Sign up for local emergency alerts and tune into reliable news sources;

- Emergency communication plans for parents, kids and those travelling between work and home are available at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan. Important information can be filled in before printing or emailing to family and friends;

- Knowing about emergency plans at places where your family spends time such as work, daycare, school, faith organizations and sports events is a good idea too. To learn more, go to www.ready.gov/plan-for-locations;

For more information about National Preparedness Month, contact Ben Strong of the Somerset County Department of Health at (908) 231-7155 orHealthDept@co.somerset.nj.us. 

For information about emergency preparedness, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign at www.ready.gov and the New Jersey Department of Health at www.state.nj.us/health/er.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be focusing on specific communities of preparedness weekly at emergency.cdc.gov/npm/index.asp

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