NEW YORK, - As we all deal with challenging demands of the coronavirus, the 2020 hurricane season has arrived at a time when, across the country, we are seeing early tropical activity and the weather threats that go along with it. Here on Long Island, now is the time to prepare yourselves and your families, but because of COVID-19, getting prepared will look a little different than in other years. With that thinking in mind, the American Red Cross on Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk partners and local elected officials urge residents to adjust their preparedness planning to the new health threats brought on by the pandemic.
“Disasters won’t stop, even during a pandemic,” said Neela Lockel, CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island. “Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 and early reports predict an ‘above average. Make your preparations now, thinking about the coronavirus situation as you do.”
“Hurricane season has begun. As Long Islanders, we are all too familiar with the destructive power of these storms. It is absolutely critical that families are prepared, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank the American Red Cross and our local organizations for leading the effort to ensure that every Long Islander is informed and prepared for hurricane season this year,” said Kevin Thomas, NY State Senator.
“Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York’s emergency management operation now sits as undoubtedly one of the nation’s best and we are fully prepared to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,” New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said. “As part of these efforts, it’s important our communities continue to develop a culture of preparedness so no matter what happens, we are always a step or two ahead. This is as easy as having planning conversations with your household or building ‘go-kits’ so essential items are ready at a moment’s notice.”
“I know the COVID-19 crisis remains at the top of our minds, but let’s not be caught off guard about another potential emergency or disaster. I want to assure all residents that Nassau County is preparing for hurricane season, and I encourage the public to prepare as well,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “The best time to prepare for a storm is when nothing is in the forecast – I commend the Red Cross for their work to raise awareness about the importance of readiness and I urge all residents to remain vigilant and get a go-kit ready so you are prepared for any weather emergency.”
“We are pleased to be here today with the Red Cross to remind everyone about hurricane and emergency preparedness. The safety of our customers and employees is PSEG Long Island’s number one priority,” said Daniel Eichhorn, President and COO, PSEG Long Island / Chief Customer Officer, PSEG Long Island and PSE&G. “PSEG Long Island has been working nonstop over the past six years to increase the electric infrastructure’s resilience to extreme weather. And when the pandemic struck, the contingency plans we made in advance allowed us to keep powering your lives. There is a lesson here: Prepare today so your family knows what to do tomorrow."
“There’s a new reality for all of us and it’s reassuring to have a very strong partnership with the Red Cross of Long Island as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies,” said Jim Flannery, vice president of Power Generation Operations, National Grid. “We’re committed to supporting our communities and keeping our customers safe though this difficult time.”
MAKE A PLAN In light of the coronavirus, you may have to adjust any previous plans you made.
If authorities advise you to evacuate, be prepared to leave immediately with your evacuation kit (see below).
- Plan now if you will need help leaving or if you need to share transportation.
- Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you are able to stay with them. Check and see if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they have symptoms or people at higher risk in their home, make other arrangements. Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open. Find out if your local emergency management agency has adapted its sheltering plans.
- Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either.
BUILD A KIT Assemble two kits of emergency supplies and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Some supplies may be hard to get, and availability will worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now. Start with this basic supply list:
- Stay-at-home kit: Include everything you need to stay at home for at least two weeks with items such as food, water, household cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.
- Evacuation kit: Your second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. Include everything you need to be on your own for three days:
- Food and water
- Personal hygiene items
- Cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol and disinfecting wipes)
- Cloth face coverings for everyone in your household who can wear one safely. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others in public. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without help.
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- 1-month supply of prescription medication, as well as over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and fever reducing drugs and medical supplies or equipment. Keep these items together in a separate container so you can take them with you if you have to evacuate.
BE INFORMED Have access to weather alerts and community notifications. Be sure that you can receive official notifications even during a power outage. Always follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- Learn about your community’s response plan for each disaster and determine if these plans have been adapted because of COVID-19.
- Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities
ONLINE RESOURCES TO HELP GET YOU PREPARED:
Preparedness for Kids: The Pillowcase Project – The Pillowcase Project is an interactive preparedness education program, typically taught in a classroom setting, for children in grades 3 through 5 that teaches kids how to prepare for emergencies, practice what they have learned, and share their knowledge with family and friends. The idea is that when an emergency occurs, everyone in the child’s family knows what to do and how to help each other stay safe. As part of this age-appropriate lesson the kids will also learn skills to help them cope with the emotional brought on by these different emergencies. The Pillowcase Project virtual classes are offered via Webex weekly. www.redcross.org/gnyprepare
Preparedness for Adults: Prepare, Respond, Recover: What to do When Disaster Strikes – In partnership with New York State, the Red Cross is providing free this emergency preparedness training. The training gives a comprehensive overview on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters and how to respond to and recover from them. The training also provides information on types of common disasters, ways to prepare as an individual, family and community member, what to do when disaster strikes and what actions you can take afterwards to aid in your recovery. The presentation, of course, will touch on COVID-19 safety and preparedness, but the theme of the conversation will be much broader than the virus. It will draw our attention to many of the different hazards we could be confronted with and the different ways we can better prepare and stay safe in the face of these often unexpected emergencies. Virtual classes are offered via WebEx weekly. www.redcross.org/gnyprepare
Take a First Aid and CPR/Course online to learn what to do in case emergency help is delayed. Download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for your area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. These apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
Visit redcross.org/hurricane for full information about what to do before, during and after a hurricane.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossNY.