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September 6, 2019 – Westchester County Executive George Latimer urges residents to review their emergency plans and obtain critical supplies ahead of time in case any severe weather strikes Westchester during hurricane season.

Latimer said: “Now is the time to assemble the essential items that you would need at home if a major storm hits and causes flooding or power outages.  These items can quickly disappear from store shelves when a storm is looming or has just occurred.”

County emergency responders advise residents to have several days’ worth of food, water, medicine and other critical supplies like flashlights and batteries on hand.  Charge all cell phones, power banks and external chargers in case of a loss of power. Prepare a “go-bag” to take on short notice during an emergency, have some cash available and keep all vehicle fuel tanks full. 

Latimer said: “In recent years, severe storms have caused significant property damage and extended power outages in Westchester. We don’t know what Mother Nature has in store for us this hurricane season so hope for the best but plan for the worst.”

Always assume that fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment are live and, if encountered, immediately call 911.  Do not touch a downed line or anyone in contact with the line.  To report an electrical outage to Con Edison, call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). Those with NYSEG should call 1-800-572-1131 for electric outages or 1-800-572-1121 for gas.  

Department of Emergency Services (DES) Commissioner John M. Cullen recommends that residents create a disaster preparedness kit that includes: one gallon of water per person per day; a three-day supply of canned, packaged or other foods that do not need refrigeration or need to be cooked, a manual can opener, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Foods that can be stored include ready-to-eat canned meats and fish, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal, granola, peanut butter, nuts, crackers and canned fruit juice.

Cullen added that residents should create a plan ahead of time for any family members with special needs, those who are frail or elderly, infants as well as pets. Family members also should plan for how they will communicate if local phone service is not available or is overwhelmed by high demand.

Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of the Department of Health, also noted that food and generator safety are essential during any power outage or emergency. If you lose power, here’s how to feed your family safely:

  • Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. Do not assume refrigerated foods are safe. If food is still fully frozen, it is safe to use.
  • Foods that have warmed to room temperature for more than two hours or have come into contact with flood waters should be discarded. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • After disposing of spoiled food, disinfect the refrigerator to avoid further contamination.
  • Discard any cans of food that are rusted, dented or opened.
  • If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.
  • Storm clean-up can produce a great deal of garbage, which invites insects and rodents. Store your garbage in watertight, rodent/insect-proof containers with tight-fitting covers.

Residents and business owners with generators or oil tanks should follow these safety tips:

  • Never run a generator in a basement, garage, porch or carport. Generators produce carbon monoxide that can quickly be lethal indoors.  Only operate a generator outdoors and away from open windows.

  • Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading your generator can damage it and any appliances connected to it. Fire may result.

  • If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.

  • Residents with oil tanks should top off their tanks and tighten the cap to prevent spills. Above-ground tanks should also be strapped to a secure fixture to prevent tipping in case of flooding.

Practical tips on these and other topics can be found at http://keepingsafe.westchestergov.com/be-prepared and www.ready.gov.