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Preparedness Guys: Stay Safe in Severe Weather

WESTPORT, Conn. - Welcome to our first column.

The purpose of this monthly column is to educate the residents of Westport and Weston about the importance of being ready for emergencies and what steps are needed to keep yourself, family, pets and businesses safe.

Pete: With the New Year and the snow months upon us - and the memory of Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter fresh in our minds - Mike and I want to discuss winter weather preparedness.

Mike: That’s right, Pete. As we saw with the recent storms, it does not take much for this area to lose power and have roads blocked by downed trees, poles and wires. By being prepared at home to ride out the storm, you not only help your family stay safe, but also help the first responders assist those that really need their help.

Pete: Follow suggestions from www.ready.gov :

1. Be Informed.

2. Make a plan.

3. Build a kit.

WINTER EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT

? Flashlight and extra batteries

? Portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries

? Charged cell phone

? First-aid kit

? Essential prescription medicines

? Non-perishable food

? Manual can opener

? Water (one gallon per person/per day)

? Baby items

? Extra blankets and sleeping bags

? Fire extinguisher

FAMILY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

? Develop a ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’ in case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm - a real possibility if adults are at work and children are at school. Have a plan for getting back together.

? Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family contact. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance than across town. Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the contact person.

? Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of town. Decide on an alternate meeting area for family members.

BE INFORMED

? Be familiar with the emergency plans at your children’s school and your workplace.

? Be aware of the location of your community’s potential emergency shelters and possible evacuation routes.

? Monitor the media.

Pete: One other way to be better prepared is to make sure you are registered with your town's emergency notification system. You can register to receive emails, text messages and phone calls. Both Westport and Weston use CodeRed. You can sign up in Westport at this web site www.westportct.gov ; click on the Emergency Alerts tab on the left side of the page and then select the link to register for CodeRed. In Westport, if you do not have Internet access or prefer to sign up by telephone, call 203-341-5000.

Mike: In Weston, go to www.westonct.gov on the left side of the page click on the CodeRed link and register through the next page. if you do not have Internet access or would like help in signing up for CodeRed, you can do so at Weston Town Hall.

Pete: It is also a good idea to register with the local town or city you work in. You can contact the town/city you work in for how to register with that town/city.

Mike: In the coming months Pete and I plan to discuss generators, fireplace safety, preparedness kits for work and your car and other topics associated with emergency preparedness.

Pete: On Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Westport Town Hall Auditorium, the Westport Weston Health District will host an emergency preparedness seminar where you can learn more about emergency preparedness. You'll also have a chance to meet Westport’s first responders and ask questions about preparedness.

If you have a comment about this column, a question or just want to say hi, Pete and Mike can be reached at mikeandpete@wwhd.com or 203-227-9571, ext. 233

Lt. Peter Janulis lives in Fairfield and is a 24-year veteran of the Westport Fire Department. He is also a registered nurse and member of the Fairfield/Easton Medical Reserve Corp. Michael J. Vincelli lives in Weston and is the director of emergency preparedness for the Westport Weston Health District; emergency response coordinator for the Greenwich Department of Health; and a leadership volunteer with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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