Ocean County Press Release
Hurricane Preparedness Key to Safety
8/24/2011

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Emergency Management officials are urging residents to be prepared as the height of hurricane season approaches.

"Specific attention must be brought to the danger of hurricanes along with the safety precautions that should be taken before and during a hurricane," said Ocean County Sheriff William L. Polhemus. "Since Ocean County is a coastal area that is especially threatened by flooding and tropical storms, the best way to handle these situations is by being prepared."

The hurricane season began June 1 and lasts until the end of November. The height of the season typically occurs in late August and during the month of September.

As the tropics begin to heat up and all eyes are on Hurricane Irene and the potential impact it may have on New Jersey, Ocean County officials are providing tips on staying ahead of a storm.

Annual preparations for the hurricane season include creating or updating a disaster supply kit. The kit should include a gallon of drinking water a day for each person and a battery-powered radio, which could become the sole source of information during an emergency.

In the event of a hurricane, the National Weather Service can usually provide up to five days of advanced warning, however being prepared could save a life.

"It is so important for every Ocean County resident and visitor to know how to handle these emergency situations," said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "Since our population grows dramatically in the summer time, special emphasis should be placed on the proper course of action during a hurricane to minimize any problems that can occur."

Officials urge residents to stay alert for and follow all directions they broadcast. Radio stations including WOBM 92.7-FM, WOBM 1160-AM, WJRZ 100.1 FM, WYRS 90.7 FM, WBBO 106.3, and WWYZ 107.1 FM all provide information on Ocean County.

In the event of an evacuation it is recommended that essential items be brought along including prescription drugs and any special dietary foods.

If transportation is a problem, plan with neighbors beforehand to ensure assistance will be available. If needed, evacuation assistance can be obtained from the local municipal office of Emergency Management or the Ocean County Sheriff's Department, Office of Emergency Management.

Registration with the local police department is available ahead of time for Ocean County's "We Care" program.

"If you or a loved one needs special assistance during any evacuation such as the bed bound, sight or hearing impaired, wheelchair capable, dialysis, oxygen dependent or other challenges, the "We Care" program can assist," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.

"We advise all residents not to wait for an official or law enforcement officer to personally notify you to evacuate. It is best to give yourself enough time to make it out safely," said Chief Michael Osborn, Ocean County Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator. "Staying at home could put yourself and your family at risk of getting trapped, making it more difficult for rescuers to reach you."

Information on emergency preparedness can be found on the Ocean County Government webpage at www.co.ocean.nj.us and by clicking on the ‘Be Prepared' link. This is a special area on the website dedicated to emergency management. Residents can get up to the minute updates on emergencies in the county before, during and after a storm.

"This site was created to help prepare our residents and visitors in case of an emergency and to provide up to the minute information should there be one," Osborn said, "We encourage residents to visit it and keep the address available."

Advisories to stay alert for are a "hurricane watch" and a "hurricane warning." A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within the next thirty-six hours. A hurricane warning is then announced when conditions are expected within the warning area, usually within the next twenty-four hours.

Serious storms may require a mandatory or voluntary evacuation. Officials will not order an evacuation unless it is absolutely necessary.

"We recommend residents and visitors become familiar with the telephone numbers for their municipality's Office of Emergency Management," Kelly said. "Good information and correct information is imperative when it comes to weather emergencies."

Local emergency management offices can provide information such as which evacuation route to take, where public shelters are located, which ones accept animals.

Emergency management officials caution visitors and residents from venturing outside during a hurricane.
Blowing debris can cause serious injury and traveling is highly discouraged.

"Storms are extremely powerful and being at the ocean may seem like a fun place to be during a hurricane but you are just putting yourself and others in harms' way," Osborn said.
It is also recommended that people remain sheltered after a hurricane until an announcement has been made that it is safe to leave.

"We also discourage use of a telephone unless it is an emergency, in order to keep phone lines free; stay out of disaster areas; avoid driving, especially on unstable roadways; and check buildings for damage before reentering," Osborn said. "Also do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. It's important those lines stay open."

"Our Office of Emergency Management does an outstanding job in keeping residents informed and our citizens safe," Kelly said. "We appreciate the work that is done here."

"Being prepared will make a substantial difference should an emergency strike," Sheriff Polhemus said.

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