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Before bad weather comes, we might rush to the supermarket but there are lots of other things we can do to be prepared. MercerMe has asked both the Hopewell Township Police Department and the Montgomery Health Department for some expert advice.

While some of this advice is applicable specifically to Hopewell Valley residents, there are plenty of helpful tips for anyone in a weather emergency.

Image 18If it is an emergency:

Let’s start with the basics. If you have an emergency, no matter the weather, CALL 9-1-1 immediately.

If power goes out:

While it might seem that once we lose power, we should seek an alternate shelter for warmth and electricity but Hopewell Township Chief of Police, Lance Maloney, says that it is not the case.

“Experience has taught us that most of the time it is best to ‘shelter in place’ during power outages or other emergencies. Most power outages are short in duration and power is normally restored within in a few hours,” said Chief Maloney.

When the Hopewell area suffered major power outages, such as during Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Sandy, Hopewell Township opened “resource centers*” to provide a place for residents to recharge electronics and to stay warm for a few hours. There were no “shelters” open within Hopewell Valley.

“Shelters were made available to residents in Mercer County at West Trenton Firehouse, Trenton City, and other locations. To my knowledge, I don’t think many (if any) Hopewell Valley residents stayed at those shelters,” said Chief Maloney. “Most of our residents did shelter in place or made arrangements to stay with family or at hotels in other areas until power was restored.”

“Depending on the circumstances, our local Office of Emergency Management (OEM) would make arrangements to have people placed if necessary. On a smaller scale, not involving a large number people or large area, a “reception center*” would be established and arrangements to have people placed would be made (including transportation if needed). On a larger scale, we may opt to have a shelter opened in the Valley (most likely Union Firehouse). We would coordinate our efforts with our local, county and state OEM partners if this became necessary.”

At the February Hopewell Valley Regional School District school board meeting, the school board spoke about the upcoming installation of solar panels over the high school parking lot which will provide some backup power to the building. The high school also has generators. That location could also become available as a possible shelter, said HVRSD Superintendent Dr. Tom Smith.

Heating do-nots:

There are a lot of mistakes you can make trying to rustle up heat when the power is out and they can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, which is potentially fatal.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not heat your home with your oven.
  • Do not use a gasoline generator in an enclosed or covered space.
  • Do no use a generator near your home.
  • During a snowstorm, clear snow accumulations away from outside dryers, heating vents and car mufflers.

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For more information, please visit NJ Poison Information & Education System website.

Things to have on hand:

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Chargers! Keep things charged and have a way to charge them aside from relying on your home electricity.

“A recommendation that I would make to residents, is to have an electronics charger (for your cell phone, laptop computers, etc.) that you can use in your car,” said Chief Maloney.

Food and water! Health Officer Stephanie Carey shared that she keeps water on hand in her basement and also keeps some shelf-safe food provisions that she rotates yearly.

Warm clothing. You might need to bundle up.

If you or a family member has special needs:

Residents that have special medical needs are urged to contact the police department, says Chief Maloney, so the Township Police can “flag” your name and address in their computer system.

“This would be good to do prior to an emergency,” said Chief Maloney. “We do check up on these residents that we are aware of during power outages or other types of emergencies.”

Personal safety:

When clearing snow or attending to generators, you need to make sure you are well-dressed to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. These tips are also important to avoid heart-attack or other personal injury.

Montgomery Health Education Snow Shoveling

To get emergency information:

Sign up for our CodeRED emergency notification system through the Hopewell Township website. Emergency alerts are sent out to home telephones, cell phones, and emails advising of an emergency, what precautions to take, or where the centers mentioned above may be located.

Advisories are posted on a banner at the top of the township website during emergencies. Also you can check out the Hopewell Township Police Department FaceBook page.

And, of course, MercerMe will be weathering the storms with you. Stayed tuned here and send us your information and tips to news@mercerme.com.

*Definitions of the various types of OEM centers:

Reception Center – A facility identified immediately after an incident to serve for a short period of time wherein affected residents will be interviewed, needs assessed and directed or transported to another location or facility.

Resource Center – Various resources including food and drink may be provided as well as access to showers, charging of electrical devices, heating or cooling and any other services a municipality may provide but no accommodations for sleeping overnight. Shelter Center – A shelter is a facility used to temporarily house affected residents with supplies to provide overnight accommodations.

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