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Letter: As LI Prepares for Hurricane Season American Red Cross Is Here to Help

Hurricane season is here, and our community has the chance right now to take some simple steps that can save lives if we are threatened this year by a hurricane. The disaster relief workers at the Long Island Chapter of the American Red Cross work hard in this community every day to provide relief for those whose lives have been torn apart by disasters.

On Long Island, we have supplies pre-staged across the entire island so that we can open shelters quickly and efficiently. Through constant drills and by working closely with local officials and organizations, we are ready to respond. However, it is vital that Long Islanders do their part as well to keep our community safe by preparing before any storms threaten our shore.

Taking a few moments to discuss these simple, common-sense preparedness steps with your family can save your life and the lives of the ones you love:

Create and practice a Hurricane Plan: Talk to members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event. Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for. Evacuate if advised by authorities. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.

Heed Hurricane Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A Hurricane Watch means there are threats of hurricane conditions within 36 hours. Review your hurricane plans, keep informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued.  A Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.

Prepare your Home: Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants, etc). Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood. Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out. Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects on both people and property. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a hurricane and where to seek shelter during a hurricane or any disaster. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.

When disaster occurs in your community, local government, disaster-relief organizations, and the American Red Cross will be there to help, but you need to be ready as well.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, contact the American Red Cross on Long Island at (516) 747-3500 or go online to www.nyredcross.org.

John Miller
CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island