Winter on Long Island can be beautiful after an ice storm has coated tree branches and bushes with a sparkling layer of ice. However, this beauty can come with a price. The weight of the ice and the brittleness caused by the cold often snaps tree limbs and brings down power lines. This Currier & Ives scene masks the reality that when a blizzard is forecast, a frenzy of buying clears supermarket shelves of bottled water, bread, milk and other necessities and the natural elements can conspire to cause Long Islanders a great deal of grief, particularly those who are homebound and without heat or electricity.
The emphasis on preparedness brought about by the war on terrorism serves to underscore that all should be prepared for a variety of hazards, some more likely to occur than others. The secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said, "In this time when Americans are making resolutions to better their lives, the message of preparedness is truly fitting. Making an emergency plan for their home or business is just one of the simple steps individuals can take to help ensure that they are as prepared as possible if an emergency occurs."
In a recent national survey conducted by the Ad Council, 80 percent of
Americans agreed that taking some simple steps to prepare could help protect themselves and their families in the event of an emergency; however, only 58 percent had an emergency supply kit on hand, had developed a family emergency plan, or had made an effort to learn about the potential threats where they live and work. These are the three steps recommended by the Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign. A similar survey of small businesses found that more than 90 percent recognized the importance of business emergency preparedness or a business continuity plan, but less than 40 percent indicated that their company had a plan in place.
Living on an island, we can be confronted with a number of disasters, both natural (hurricanes, severe flooding, tornado, blizzard, ice storm), and manmade (terrorism, airborne release from a nuclear power plant). With its dense population and limited number of bridges and tunnels, simply leaving the island is not a viable option for most residents. Facts show that evacuation could be impossible from areas suffering from a severe natural disaster affecting the electrical grid and road closures. Residents can learn the simple steps to prepare family and business for emergencies by visiting www.ready.gov on the Web. They can become informed as to what potential threats face Long Islanders, and learn the recommendations for protecting loved ones, such as preparing a family communications plan, putting together an emergency kit for the home, determining when to leave the home and when to "shelter in place," or how to receive up-to-date information about an ongoing local emergency.
The Glen Cove CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) is putting family preparedness for emergencies at the top of its list of New Year's Resolutions for 2006 and recommends all community residents do the same.
In addition, anyone interested in being trained in emergency preparedness to assist neighbors and community as a volunteer during emergencies is invited to join the Glen Cove CERT. For further information, email Karen Luciano-Bartolotto or Dave Nieri at GlenCoveCERT@optonline.net.