Be aware and stay informed!

Jennifer Velez, commissioner
Department of Human Services
Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent,
NJ State Police; state director,
NJ Office of Emergency Management
Edward Dickson, director
NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness
Mary E. O’Dow
    Even as New Jersey continues its recovery from Superstorm Sandy, we’re reminded that a new hurricane season is upon us. Now is a good time to consider your personal and professional readiness for any emergency, but particularly for a natural disaster.
   The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects to see an estimated three to six major hurricanes in our region this hurricane season.
   Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 was a wake-up call. It forced us all to reevaluate our emergency plans both at home and at work. Like remembering to change the batteries in smoke alarms, it’s important to update and review the checklists to make sure that everyone involved is clear on their role and prepared. For seniors or people with disabilities, there are even more readiness issues to consider: where to go if evacuated, how to get there, what about medical devices, who will provide caregiving services, how to access food or medication. All of these elements need to be part of an emergency plan.
   A great source for emergency preparedness is It helps families and businesses to make a plan, build a kit and stay informed electronically of imminent and dangerous situations. Another great resource is NJ211. It serves as a one stop website and call center to learn about emergency evacuations, shelter locations, food distribution and FEMA or state resources.
   Be aware and stay informed about hurricane hazards. Make or check your emergency plan today. Be ready and be prepared.