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Advice to help you prepare for disaster

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There is a lot more that goes into preparing for any disaster than one might think. The usual flashlight and batteries just won’t cut it.

This week on “Take Care,” Commissioner Jerome Hauer shares advice on how to prepare for a disaster. Hauer is head of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Hauer says it’s essential that people are prepared to be isolated with no heat or power for a period of time, as well as be ready to be forced to evacuate their residence for a period of seven to 10 days.

Hauer recommends packing your emergency kit with copies of insurance, birth certificates, passports and wedding certificates.

“Anything that’s an absolutely critical piece of paper that helps them identify themselves, prove their insurance and prove who they are,” Haur says.

He also recommends people have any essential medicine and enough food, bottled water, diapers for kids, a change of clothes, dust masks, glow lights, working flashlights and a radio, preferably a hand-cranked one.

“One of the programs that we’ve put in place, and has been a big push by the governor, is called citizen preparedness,” Hauer said.

This program helps residents prepare themselves for a disaster, and be ready to help neighbors who may not have planned ahead.

“It does two things, it helps people survive, and it reduces the volume of calls for first responders who are dealing with hundreds if not thousands of calls and that prioritizes their calls to the people who most need it,” Hauer said.

Most victims of natural disasters are not rescued by firemen or police, Hauer explains. Most rescues involve neighbors helping neighbors. 

Hauer says one of the biggest problems in disaster preparedness is complacency. He says constant reminders for people to check and update their emergency kits are crucial.

“You go into the home four or five years later, the water is expired, their go kit is nowhere to be found, their batteries are dead and their papers are lost,” Hauer said.

While a major terrorist attack like September 11 hasn’t happened in New York state since then, Hauer said people need to be prepared to be vigilant, to report things out of the ordinary.

“We need to ensure the people of New York realize that we are still the number one target and see something say something is absolutely critical,” Hauer said.

Hauer suggests people visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website where there’s a list of what people need on hand for a disaster – including things like how much water people will need per person per day, what kind of first aid kit is necessary.

The website also has helpful tips on first aid and how to prepare for disaster to strike, like taking pictures of every room in your house for insurance purposes.

“We’ve got the whole citizen preparedness program, it takes about a half hour, and it takes you through the complete preparedness approach,” Hauer said.