WARREN, NJ - Hurricane Joaquin was declared the Atlantic season's third hurricane Wednesday morning, and hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for the Bahamas. Joaquin's potential to affect the Warren area and the rest of the East Coast is still uncertain. 

The National Weather Service has issued a “Hazardous Weather Outlook” for Northern New Jersey from Thursday through Tuesday of next week with significant rain showers expected Thursday night and Friday. These anticipated showers are the result of a front moving though our area and not related to Joaquin.

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and a good time to plan with your family what you would need should you have to leave your home or stay in place due to a hurricane or another disaster. During the first three days of an emergency, it is essential that you plan how you will survive until organized rescue efforts can be mobilized. 

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During an emergency, it is easy to feel out of control.  The best way to be in control is to prepare for the unexpected to the best of your ability. 

In an emergency, where would you meet your family members outside your home? What medications would you need for your family and pets?  Where would you look for information about the emergency? Who would assist family members and friends who may be vulnerable due to age or illness if you are not available?

“Since predicting when and where a disaster will hit is difficult to pinpoint, it is important to plan how you will communicate with your loved ones and how you will stay informed about essential community information should the need arise,” said Freeholder Peter S. Palmer. “Being prepared can make a significant difference in your health, safety and comfort during the first few days of a disaster.”

“The goal of NPM is to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies throughout the year,” said Freeholder Palmer, 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.”

This year’s NPM campaign is titled “Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”  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. 

A Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids is available at http://bit.ly/PlanforEmergencies Important information can be filled in before printing or emailing to family and friends.

A Commuter Emergency Plan for traveling between work and home and other commonly visited locations is available at http://bit.ly/CommutingLog  

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. To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/AwayfromHome

Locally, National Preparedness Month is being promoted by the Somerset County Public Health & Safety Department, which includes the Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management

For more information about National Preparedness Month, contact Ben Strong of the Somerset County Department of Health at 908-231-7155.  

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit http://bit.ly/Time2Prepare, 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 http://emergency.cdc.gov/npm/index.asp