winter prep 16Communication is Key During a Storm

FREEHOLD, NJ – With a potential snow storm headed our way by the weekend, it is time to be prepared for winter weather.

“Now is the time for us to get ready for snow, ice and strong winds,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “It’s important for us to plan ahead because winter weather can cause power outages that result in loss of heat, water and communications to our homes and businesses. The County has compiled a checklist for winter emergency preparedness that can be found on at www.visitmonmouth.com.”

Preparing for winter storms is very similar to preparing for other emergencies like hurricanes or floods, with the addition of a few cold-weather supplies.

“As we saw with Superstorm Sandy, there may be times when you lose not only access to television and telephones through the power in your home, but your cell phone service as well,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, liaison to the County Office of Emergency Management. “It is essential to make sure that you and your family have a battery-powered radio, and extra batteries, so that you will be able to learn about local emergency instructions.”

County officials encourage residents to prepare their family, home and vehicle for emergencies.

“As in any emergency, it’s important to develop a plan for your family,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “Make sure the entire family is aware of the plan, knows what to do and how each member can be contacted in case you are not together when the emergency occurs.”

Preparing for winter storms is very similar to preparing for other emergencies like hurricanes or floods, with the addition of a few cold-weather supplies. Follow the three steps below now so that you and your family will be ready for whatever situation this winter brings.

Step 1: Get a Kit

  • Get an Emergency Supply Kit which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Thoroughly check and update your family's Emergency Supply Kit before winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:
    • Rock saltor more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agencyfor a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovelsand other snow removal equipment.
    • Also includeadequate clothing and blanketsto keep you warm.

Step 2: Make a Plan: Prepare Your Family

  • Make aFamily Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when a storm sets in, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
  • Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.

Step 3: Be Informed: Prepare Your Home

  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave. In addition, check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels- ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system- should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes- check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system- check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters- replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster- ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights- check for serviceability.
    • Oil- check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat- ensure it works properly.
    • Tires- make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.
    • Windshield wiper equipment- repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.

“While emergencies seem to have become a regular occurrence, we cannot become complacent,” said DiMaso. “Advance preparation by residents and of our county resources continues to make us well-equipped and resilient.”

For more information about how to prepare for emergencies and to access the Monmouth County Winter Emergency Preparation Checklist go to the Emergency Management section of the County website at www.visitmonmouth.com.