Emergency Preparedness Month Observed for Twentieth Year; County Agencies Collaborate on Prep

As recovery and rebuilding efforts continue in Putnam County following recent summer storms and flooding, the significance of being prepared for emergencies has taken on a new level of importance for many. Serious events such as these are a good reminder that emergencies can happen at any time, and without warning. This is one of the main lessons of National Emergency Preparedness Month, commemorated every September to raise awareness and urge people to take steps to be better prepare for the next challenge. Putnam emergency service providers, county departments and agencies, all work together to prepare so that response can be efficient, and resilience enhanced. Often this means a focus on the most vulnerable. 

 “Every emergency presents unique challenges, but there are measures that both residents and government can take to enhance our ability to respond effectively,” said Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne. “We’re constantly working with all of our partners from FEMA to towns and villages, to make sure we’re ready for whatever challenges arise.”  

Collaborative efforts of Putnam County’s various emergency service providers, county departments, and agencies aim to bolster response capabilities and increase resilience, particularly among the most vulnerable members of the community. To that end, this year’s “Ready Campaign” by FEMA centers on preparing older adults for disasters, recognizing their heightened vulnerabilities during a disaster situation.  

“Older adults can face greater risks with emergencies, such as extreme weather, especially if they are living alone, are low income, or have a chronic disease or disability,” said Michael Cunningham, Director of the Office for Senior Resources.  “We advise older adults to have their family and physician contacts and key supplies ready. With eyeglasses and prescriptions, it is usually good idea to have a spare pair or extra medicine. We work with the health department to get these messages out and will be focusing on emergency preparedness during Fall Prevention Week in September as well as during our Senior Health Fair in November. Every year during National Emergency Preparedness Month we are reminded of the importance of being prepared, but it is of year-round significance of course.” 

Robert Lipton, Commissioner of Putnam County’s Bureau of Emergency Services, endorsed this advice, noting tips for the general public are similar. “In times of emergency, one of the first overarching challenges is communication,” said Mr. Lipton. “Being able to access information in real time, as it evolves, is key for individuals as well as our emergency crews.” Commissioner Lipton went on to describe, NY Alert, a free service that provides critical information and emergency alerts on local information. “This service is completely free and when you sign up you can decide what type of information you will receive and how you want to get it—by phone, email or text. It provides instructions and recommendations from emergency personnel in real time.” Residents are encouraged to sign up at alert.ny.gov.

Another important tip from the Putnam County Department of Health and Bureau of Emergency Services is to prepare a “go bag,” which contains items to take in case of evacuation. This can include copies of important documents, an extra set of house and car keys, bottled water and non-perishable foods, flashlight, battery-operated radio, phone charger, a list of family member medications, personal hygiene items, first aid kit, childcare and pet supplies, mylar blanket, light clothing, and a list of contacts, phone numbers and a pre-arranged meeting location. Having these things together and ready to go in a sturdy, easy to carry bag or knapsack can provide some reassurance in an emergency.

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Submitted by Brewster, NY

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