With Tropical Storm Isaias set to barrel into Westchester this afternoon, County Executive George Latimer is reminding residents to be prepared in the event that the significant storm leaves flooding and power outages in its wake.
Latimer urged residents to take steps immediately to be ready for whatever Isaias dishes out. Flooded roads, downed trees and downed power lines, and power outages are all potential impacts of the storm, he said.
“Isaias is forecast to bring very high winds and driving rain into Westchester. I am urging residents to take prudent steps so they are best prepared to weather the storm,” the County Executive said.
Latimer said residents should have several days’ worth of food, water, medicine and other critical supplies like flashlights and batteries on hand in the event they are stuck in their homes due to flooding or a power outage. He also said residents should secure patio or terrace furniture, garbage cans and other outdoor items that could become airborne in high winds.
He also urged residents to be cautious while driving, noting that flash flooding is possible when significant rain falls in a short period of time. He said motorists should not drive through standing water because it can rise quickly and trap them in their vehicles.
Latimer has activated the County’s Emergency Operations Center and has directed all County government departments to be prepared for Isaias. Various County government departments, including Public Safety, Emergency Services and Public Works and Transportation, will have extra personnel and equipment assigned Tuesday to respond to the storm and assist municipalities if needed.
Commissioner John M. Cullen of the Department of Emergency Services (DES) said hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. He recommended that people 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 and eating utensils; flashlights and batteries; a 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 and granola; peanut butter; nuts; crackers and canned fruit juice.
Cullen said residents can do the following to enhance their preparedness:
- Make a plan
o Begin by creating a personal support network and developing a communications plan with friends and family. Put the plan in writing and share it. Consider the needs of pets or service animals.
- Build a kit
o Ensure that your kit has all the items you may need if asked to evacuate or shelter-in-place.
o If you already have an emergency preparedness kit or go-bag, be sure to check expiration dates and re-stock as needed, including medications and food products. Have copies of important documents.
- Be informed
o Know the hazards to which your community is most vulnerable and take steps to mitigate damage to your property in advance.
o Know how you can access official information and instructions in an emergency, such as official websites and social media accounts as well as traditional media outlets.
- Get involved
o Before disaster strikes consider volunteering for the County Medical Reserve Corps, your local Community Emergency Response Team or the American Red Cross.
o In an emergency; remember family, friends and neighbors who may need additional assistance, such as older adults or someone with a disability.
Sherlita Amler, MD, commissioner of the Department of Health, said food safety and generator safety are essential during any power outage or emergency.
If you lose power, she said here’s how to ensure you 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.
- During a prolonged outage, these foods are potentially hazardous if not stored below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and should be discarded: meat, poultry, seafood, cold cuts, hot dogs, eggs, cream, sour cream, yogurt, milk, custards, puddings, soft and shredded cheeses, cut fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta, casseroles, unbaked cookie and bread dough, gravy, creamy salad dressings, fish sauces, hoisin sauce, opened spaghetti sauce and garlic in oil.
- 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 are reminded of the following 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.
If you lose power, call Con Edison or NYS Electric and Gas directly. The phone numbers are: Con Ed power outage or gas and electrical service problems: (800) 75-CONED; NYSEG electricity power outage: (800) 572-1131; NYSEG gas power outage: (800) 572-1121.