Emergency Response:Are You Prepared:Hurricane


Emergency Response
Dana Smith, Commissioner



  Family Emergency Plan
  Family Emergency Supplies
  Plan For Your Pet
  Hurricane Watch
  Hurricane Warning
  Weathering the Storm


The hurricane/coastal storm season in New York State begins June 1 and runs through November 30.  New Yorkers everywhere, including right here in Dutchess County, need to begin taking steps to prepare themselves and their families for this storm season because past history reveals that the entire state, from Montauk to Buffalo, is vulnerable to the effect of hurricanes in Atlantic coastal areas and from extensive flooding if a storm moves inland.

Here are some steps you should take now:

  1. Know the hurricane risks in your area. Learn the storm surge history and elevation of your area.
  2. Find out what emergency plans are in place in your community and how you will be notified in the event of an emergency.
  3. If living in a coastal area, learn the safe routes inland.
  4. Learn about local sheltering plans and make plans now on what to do with your pets should you be required to evacuate your home. Most public health regulations do not allow pets in public shelters and most hotels/motels do not allow them
  5. Make sure that you have enough non-perishable food, water supplies, and medications on hand.



“Family Emergency Plan”

An emergency – be it a natural disaster such as a flood or hurricane, a power outage or a terrorist act – can occur quickly and without warning.

You can become better prepared to protect yourself and your family by developing a family emergency plan.  Emergencies may strike when you and your family are away from home, so take the time now to learn about plans at your workplace or anywhere else you and your family spend time. 

And most importantly, pay attention to the news.  Know your local radio and television stations that can provide you with up-to-date official information during an emergency.

The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management recommends you take the following steps to create an emergency plan:

  1. Discuss with family members what they should do in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane or severe storm.  Pick two places to meet:  a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  2. Designate an out of area friend or relative whom separated family members should call to report their whereabouts.  Make certain all family members have the phone number.
  3. Know how to contact all family members at all times.  Think 24/7/365.
  4. Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
  5. Check your home and property for potential hazards to see what actions need to be taken to ensure your safety and to protect your belongings.
  6. Check your insurance coverage.  Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowner’s insurance.
  7. Install safety features in your residence such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  8. Know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity in your home.
  9. Learn about  local sheltering plans.
  10. Determine if your family has any special needs and develop a plan for meeting those needs.  For example:  If you have a family member on a life support system, does your electric utility know about it?
  11. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones.
  12. Teach all family members – including children – how and when to call 911 or your local EMS phone number.




“Family Emergency Supplies”

Often during an emergency, electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or telephone service may not work.  The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management advises that you should be prepared to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. Use the checklist below to help you prepare for what you and your family will need.  Consider two kits.  In one put everything you will need to stay where you are.  The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to evacuate.

  1. Flashlights with extra batteries.  Keep flashlights – with extra, fresh batteries -- beside your bed and in several other locations.  Do not use matches.
  2. Portable radio or TV with extra batteries.  Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use.  The radio -- including NOAA Weather Radio -- will be the best source of emergency.
  3. First aid kit / first aid skills.  Keep your first aid kit well stocked and in a central location.  Take basic first aid and CPR courses.  Keep your skills current.
  4. Fire extinguisher.  Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires and should be easily accessible.  Teach all family members how to use it.
  5. Food. Store a three-day supply of food for each person.  Items such as canned or dehydrated, non-perishable food, powdered milk and canned juices can be rotated into your daily diet and replenished on a regular basis.  Include food for infants or the elderly, snack foods and items such as a non-electric can opener, cooking utensils, paper/plastic plates and plastic utensils.
  6. Water. Store a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day).  Store in air tight containers and replace them every six months. Keep a disinfectant, such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, to purify water, if necessary.
  7. Extra blankets and clothing may be required to keep warm.  Sturdy shoes protect feet from broken glass and debris.
  8. Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.  Have at least a week’s supply of medications and foods for infants and those on special diets.
  9. Toiletries, hygienic items and moisture wipes.
  10. Tools.  Have a crescent or pipe wrench to turn off gas and water if necessary and know the location of the shut off valves.
  11. Important documents – stored in a waterproof container – insurance policies, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc. Also, checkbook, cash (in small bills), credit cards, ATM cards.




"Plan for Your Pet”

The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management encourages you to develop an emergency plan for your pets before a disaster or emergency occurs by taking these actions:

  1. Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations.  Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines. 
  2. Have a current photograph.
  3. Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
  4. Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal - carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
  5. Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet!  Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are all potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
  6. If you plan to shelter your pet - work it into your evacuation route planning.
  7. Bring pets indoor well in advance of a storm - reassure them and remain calm.
  8. Pet shelters will be filled on first-come, first-served basis.  Call ahead and determine availability.  


    After the Storm or Emergency Has Passed:


    1. Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home - often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost.  Remember downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can  pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
    2. If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered.  Bring along a picture of your pet, if possible.
    3. A severe storm is traumatic for animals.  After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior.



“Hurricane Watch”

A hurricane WATCH means that hurricane conditions MAY threaten an area within 24-36 hours. When a hurricane WATCH is issued, everyone in that area should listen for further advisories and be prepared to act promptly.

The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management urges residents in Dutchess County to take the following actions: 

  1. Listen frequently to local radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins on the storm’s progress.
  2. Fuel and service family vehicles. After the storm has passed, service stations may be unable to pump fuel because of flooding or loss of electrical service.
  3. Moor any boats securely or move to safe shelter.
  4. Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
  5. Tape, board or shutter all window and door openings. Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent lifting from their tracks.
  6. Check for batteries, flashlights and battery-operated radios.
  7. Check on your supply of canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water and medications.
  8. Secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  9. Have on hand an extra supply of cash.



Hurricane Warning

A hurricane WARNING is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles an hour (64 knots) and/or dangerously high tides and waves.

The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management urges residents in Dutchess County to take these actions as soon as possible:

  1. Continue listening to local radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins on the storm’s progress.
  2. Complete preparation activities such as putting up storm shutters, storing loose objects, etc. Move valuables to upper floors.
  3. Store drinking water in clean jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.  Your town’s water system could become contaminated or damaged by the storm.
  4. Check your battery powered equipment.  Your radio may be your only link with the outside world.  Emergency cooking facilities and flashlights will be essential if utility services are interrupted.
  5. Follow instructions issued by local authorities. Leave IMMEDIATELY if told to do so.
  6. Leave low lying areas that may be swept by high tides or storm waves.
  7. If you plan to leave your home, leave early (if possible, in daylight) to avoid the last-minute rush that could leave you stranded. Stay with friends or relatives, at a low-rise inland hotel/motel, or go to a predesignated public shelter outside a flood zone.
  8. In any case, leave mobile homes for more substantial shelter.
  9. Notify neighbors and a family member outside of the warned area of your evacuation plans.
  10. Put food and water out for a pet if you cannot take it with you.  Public health regulations do not allow pets in public shelters, nor do most hotels/motels allow them.



Weathering the Storm


  1. If you are traveling, find safe shelter immediately.
  2. If you are at home or at work:


    1. If you have been ordered to evacuate, do so.  If not, stay put in a well constructed building.
    2. Continue to listen to local radio, television reports or NOAA Weather Radio for latest information on    the storm’s progress and for bulletins from emergency officials.
    3. Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary.
    4. Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
    5. Turn off propane tanks.
    6. Unplug small appliances.
    7. Fill large containers with water.


    If winds become strong:


    1. Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered.  Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway.
    2. Close all interior doors.  Secure and brace external doors.
    3. If you are in a two-story house, go to an interior first-floor room, such as a bathroom or closet.
    4. If you are in a multiple-story building and away from the water, go to the first or second floors and take refuge in the halls or other interior rooms away from the windows.
    5. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
    6. Remain indoors during a hurricane or coastal storm.  Don’t be fooled by the “eye” or the lull that occurs as the storm center moves overhead.  The other side of the hurricane “eye” has winds that will rapidly increase and will come from the opposite direction.

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