Town urged to prepare for natural disasters

The town is taking a cue from the Boy Scouts by reminding residents to be prepared this month, as the increasing number of natural disasters that take place this time of year loom.

“With today’s changing weather patterns, it is as important to be prepared for emergencies of all kinds,” said Greenwich Director of Health Caroline Calderone Baisley. “Certainly Hurricane Sandy taught us this valuable lesson. While government does its part in preparing for disasters, individual action and responsibility is needed. By making preparations in advance, you will have what you need and will feel more confident. Part of being prepared is deciding on whether you should ride out the storm. In some cases, it would be safer to relocate.”

During September, which is National Preparedness Month, the Department of Health advises residents to make an emergency supply kit and to keep emergency contact phone numbers handy. Supply kits should include candles, flashlights and battery-powered radios; First Aid items and blankets; a supply of non-perishable foods that require no cooking or refrigeration and a can opener; a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day and materials such as wire, rope, chlorine disinfectant, fire extinguishers, extra blankets, lumber and sandbags.

Additionally, the community is encouraged to visit websites including the town’s website (greenwichct.org), the American Red Cross (redcross.org) and the federal government (ready.gov) for pointers on personal readiness.

Storm conditions can bring high winds, torrential rain, flooding and power outages.  When storm warnings are in effect, stay tuned to local radio stations WGCH 1490 AM and WLNK 1350AM or Cablevision Channel 12 for official bulletins. People can also follow weather updates online at Greenwich-post.com and Twitter.com/Greenwichpost.

Residents are advised to keep a battery-powered radio handy, stay indoors and travel only if necessary. Motor vehicles should be kept off the street so emergency response crews can access the area to clear trees, service wires and respond to medical emergencies.

During power outages, the town recommends that residents unplug appliances, use generators outdoors only and with caution, conserve fuel and water, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed, throw away freezer food that has thawed below 45 degrees and to cook or discard perishable foods that have not been maintained at proper temperatures for more than three hours.

Additionally, residents should be prepared if a storm floods their home or property. If your home or workplace is flooding, turn off the furnace and gas valve, don’t handle electrical equipment in wet areas, never cross a flooded area on barefeet, disinfect private wells that are flooded, wait until flood waters are below basement level before trying to drain or pump the basement and wear protective clothing while cleaning up debris.

During an emergency the town may opt to use the Reverse 911 system to send a recorded message to each resident that has a published number. All residents are encouraged to register a contact number (non-published number, cell phone, etc.) through the town’s website located under the First Selectman’s Emergency Preparedness page.

The town recommends keeping the following emergency contact numbers available: for emergencies only, dial 911; Aquarion Water Company call 1-800-732-9678; Northeast Utilities call 1-800-286-2000 and CT Natural Gas Company call 203-869-6900.

For a copy of the Department of Health’s brochure, Hurricanes — Be Prepared, go on the town’s website at Greenwichct.org and look under the Department of Health. Brochures are also available at Town Hall.

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