As the tropics heat up and a small parade of tropical storms and hurricanes march toward the United States, it’s time to establish a plan and be prepared should Ocean County be in line for a storm this season.
“Although hurricane season began June 1, it lasts through November so it is important that our residents have their emergency plans together before the threat of a storm is near,” said the Deputy Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. “September 10 is considered the peak of the hurricane season and September is National Preparedness Month. The more prepared you are now, the less you have to worry about when there is a storm approaching.”
Emergency management officials strongly suggest that every home have an up-to-date portable disaster supply kit ready at all times. The kit should include a gallon of drinking water a day for each person, prescription drugs and special dietary foods, a supply of non-perishable foods, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
“When it comes to hurricane season or any sort of weather event that can cause damage, you always need to be prepared for the worst,” said Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy, Ocean County’s Emergency Management Coordinator. “Our OEM is prepared for whatever may come our way. It’s just as important that our residents are also prepared.”
Ocean County residents are encouraged to sign up for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office’s emergency alerts to receive emergency notifications, traffic information, severe weather alerts and event reminders right to their phones.
“Correct information is clearly one of our best tools when it comes to assisting the people that live in Ocean County,” Mastronardy said. “Signing up for the alerts is a good step in knowing what is happening in the County.”
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of the Office of Senior Services, noted that Ocean County’s large senior citizen population should also prepare for whatever special needs they may have.
Vicari said seniors and residents with disabilities are encouraged to sign up for Register Ready, New Jersey’s Special Needs registry for disasters. The program provides information to emergency responders so they can better meet specific needs of disabled residents in the event of a disaster or other emergency.
“Alert systems are great tools for our local law enforcement to get information out to as many residents as possible throughout the year but especially during emergencies,” Vicari said. “The New Jersey Special Needs registry is also important because not only does it help our seniors and special-needs residents, but it provides information so that residents can be checked on during weather emergencies too.”
Officials added that it was important to make plans for the family pet or other animals in their care during a hazardous weather event.
In addition to having a household Disaster Supplies Kit, it is important to have Animal Supply Kits and Take-Along Bags for service animals and pets. Pet kits should include: a two-week supply of water and food, non-spill food and water dishes, cage/carrier labeled with contact information, favorite toys and treats, leash, collar and harness, litter, litter pan, paper towels and plastic baggies, and pet medication.
It is also advised to make sure that your pets and service animals have current identification tags, and that their vaccinations are current. A plan as to how your pets will be cared for if you have to evacuate, as well as keeping them confined or securely leashed during or after a disaster will help them from being confused or frightened.
“In case of needing to evacuate, it is crucial to have plans in place for not only yourself and your family but your family animals too,” Quinn said. “Make sure that evacuation routes and shelter locations are included in your family emergency plan.”
If you are evacuated to a shelter, it is recommended to bring blankets/sleeping bags/pillows, change of clothes, cash/credit card/checkbook, family documents, birth certificates, insurance policies, stock certificates, medicine and prescription drugs, infant formula/food, special dietary foods and diapers.
Quinn noted that even though Superstorm Sandy hit Ocean County almost 11 years ago, it certainly came with the realization that Mother Nature can be devastating and it can happen here.
“It’s important for both residents and visitors to be aware of storm predictions and make sure you are as prepared as you can be,” Quinn said. “It is never too early to have a plan in place.”
For a copy of the Ocean County Health Department Emergency Preparedness Handbook visit: