2007-08-17 / Columnists

Cross Currents

September is 'National Preparedness Month': Is Rockaway Prepared?
CommentaryBy Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

JOAN A.FOLEY JOAN A.FOLEY Recent fires, heavy rain, flooding, a tornado and the possibility that a hurricane can run up the coast and hit New York City should alert Rockaway residents that they need to do all they can to become prepared for all kinds of emergencies.

September is National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY), which responds to more than 3,000 local emergencies each year, continues to expand its programs and community outreach to help residents and businesses better understand the steps that can be taken to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made emergencies.

Every Rockaway household needs to "Be Red Cross Ready." There are three easy steps to follow. Get a kit, make a plan and be informed. We also ask that every person become a trained New York Red Cross volunteer and help those in need when an emergency occurs.

Get a Kit: Have emergency supplies at home and a "go bag" filled with important items and papers to take with you should you evacuate. Items should be set aside for every household member, including pets.

Food and water: Have at least one gallon of water per person per day. Have nonperishable, high protein items such as peanut butter, ready-to-eat soup and other canned goods. It's important that items not require refrigeration and need little preparation.

Flashlight and radio: If battery-powered, have extra batteries, or use a crank flashlight and radio.

First aid kit and medications: Don't forget copies of written prescriptions, which will be needed if you leave your home during an emergency.

Clothing and personal items: Have a change of clothes for everyone in your family. Include copies of personal items such as identification, insurance policies and birth certificates. Don't forget pens, paper and a spare set of glasses.

Make a Plan: Having a communications and evacuation plan is the best possible response to a disaster. During an emergency, a plan will help reduce stress, because everyone will know how to respond. Practice your plan several times each year.

Talk: Establish responsibilities for those in your household and plan to work together as a team. Choose two places to meet after a disaster. One should be outside your home (but a safe distance away). The other location should be outside your neighborhood should you need to evacuate the area. Plot alternate routes in case roads are closed.

Learn: Each family member should learn how to turn off the utilities in the event of an emergency. Everyone should know how to use the fire extinguisher; this can prevent a small fire from becoming a larger one. Teach everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.

Include your pets: Remember that if it is not safe for you to be there, then it is not safe for your pets to be there. If you must evacuate, take them with you.

Be Informed: Become knowledgeable about potential emergencies and know where to obtain vital information. Knowing what may happen and how you can help is an effective defense against a disaster.

Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur: Know what to do where you work, live and play.

Identify how you will be notified: Find out how the local authorities will inform you about a disaster. Possible channels the authorities could use are through local television or radio, or the NOAA weather radio stations.

Learn what you can do to prepare: Take a CPR or first aid class. Follow the steps to assemble your supplies kit and make a plan with your family.

For more information about emergency preparedness, assistance in assembling an emergency "go bag," schedules about safety and preparedness programs, readiness materials and supplies, and volunteer information, visit www.nyredcross.org .

Upcoming Classes

Below is a selection of classes offered during September at ARC/GNY - Queens at 138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood. Dates and times are subject to change. For more information about classes in Queens, including costs and sessions available in Spanish, along with details about emergency preparedness presentations and other events, call ARC/GNY - Queens at 718-558-0053, or visit www.nyredcr oss.org.

Friday, September 14, first aid for cats and dogs, 6 - 10 p.m.

Wednesday, September 19, standard first aid, 6 - 10 p.m.

Thursday, September 20, CPR Challenge - Adult, Child and/or Infant, 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Sunday, September 23, standard first aid with CPR/AED - Adult, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Upcoming Events

On Thursday, September 6, The New York City Citizens Corps Council will provide an all-day city-wide program to inform New Yorkers about the importance of household and business emergency preparedness. The Red Cross will participate in events that will be held at major transportation centers in each borough. For details about activities in Queens, visit www. nyc.gov/citizencorps .

On Sunday, September 9, the Red Cross will conduct a shelter exercise at Aviation High School at 45-30 36th Street. This shelter exercise is designed to help Red Cross reserve volunteers and non-disaster staff prepare, so they can respond quickly and effectively during an emergency in New York.

Volunteers from Queens are invited to "play" evacuated residents who arrive at a shelter. No Red Cross training is required for this role. Lunch will be provided for all volunteers. To participate, email disastervolunteers@ nyredcross.org and refer to the September 9 drill.

Every month, we offer Prepare New York and Ready New York programs at public venues throughout Queens (check the calendar at www. nyredcross for dates and locations) and upon request for organizations and businesses.

Prepare New York is a free 45- minute emergency preparedness presentation that teaches New York City residents how to create a plan, build a supply kit, and keep loved ones safe and informed during times of disaster.

Participants receive an interactive CD that can be used to create a customized evacuation plan, plus other tools that will help any family get prepared, along with information from the Red Cross and the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Ready New York is a free two-hour event dedicated to preparing individuals and families for emergencies.

Residents have access to emergency experts from the fire department, police department and OEM.

The next Ready New York event in Far Rockaway: Thursday, September 27, 9 - 11 a.m., Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1821 Cornaga Avenue. Contact: ARC/GNYQueens for more information.

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