It’s never too early to prepare for storms, according to Cranston’s police and fire departments. Making sure homes have canned food, flashlights and bottled water on hand are some of the …
It’s never too early to prepare for storms, according to Cranston’s police and fire departments. Making sure homes have canned food, flashlights and bottled water on hand are some of the ways individuals can prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters.
“Our responses will be delayed in a storm,” Cranston Fire Chief James Warren told enrichment center seniors on July 20. “We’re busier, it’s hard to get around if the streets are flooded, trees are down and wires are down.”
Warren, along with Cranston Police – Sergeant Gregg Weller, Captain Justin Dutra and Officer Joseph Alfonso – discussed hurricane preparedness with the Cranston Enrichment Center’s seniors last Wednesday.
Warren, who also serves as the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director, shared that individuals should have enough food and water to stay on their own without any help for three days. Residents should stock up on canned food, make sure their medications are all set and manual can opener. For older folks who have mobility issues or arthritis, opening cans may be difficult so having dry food on hand that is easy to open and doesn’t spoil is important to have. Warren said someone who is living alone should have three gallons of water (one gallon per day) in their home.
“People don't just have three gallons of water sitting around in their house, but that's the goal,” said Warren.
Dutra said if there is an impending storm and individuals don't have enough money to stockpile food, they can call the Police Department’s Community Outreach Division, which works with local partners who can assist individuals during the impending storm. Pet owners should also be mindful of having enough pet food in the house and calling the veterinarian ahead of time for any medication needs.
As for electronics, both departments told seniors to make sure cell phones are fully charged and to keep a battery-operated radio nearby to stay updated on the news which often discusses storm updates, including road closures and information on flooding. Dutra added that if a phone battery is draining, individuals could charge their phones in the car should they lose power. (Just make sure that if parked in the garage that the garage door is open to avoid carbon monoxide exposure.) To not drain the battery as quickly, stay off phones by having a supply of board games, books or magazines to stay occupied.
Individuals were also cautioned of heating homes with stoves and generators – generators should be at least 20 feet from the house – and candles should not be left unattended since they could fall over. Additionally, people should not walk around with a lit candle because a simple trip could start a fire. Instead, having flashlights scattered around the house for when power goes out is helpful so individuals do not have to search around the house and potentially injure themselves.
Dutra suggested residents pick up objects around their yard that could become airborne in a storm. Additionally, if the wind starts blowing, home owners should draw window blinds so if a branch breaks a window, the blinds block glass from spraying through the house. And, no matter how much you want to investigate the big crashing sound from outside, stay indoors. If one tree falls down, it’s likely that another will. Instead, notify the police and fire departments.
Dutra said the biggest takeaway from the presentation is for individuals to communicate with friends and family about where they will be staying for the storm and updating them on how they are doing – this could include a simple text once in the morning, afternoon and night during the storm and addressing any concerns or damage that’s occurred to the home. Additionally, if individuals have any questions or worries, they can let the police and fire departments know.
“Don’t be afraid to call us and ask for help,” said Dutra. “There’s no shame in asking – especially if you live alone and maintain your own property.”
He added that if an individual is concerned or has health issues, there’s no problem with calling the police department and letting them know where you live; residents can leave the contact information of a family member or friend should the police not be able to get ahold of the individual.
Dutra also suggested putting an emergency contact card someplace in the house (on a kitchen counter or on the refrigerator) if there is a situation where police and fire respond to a home but the individual cannot communicate with first responders. The contact card could include the phone number of a son, daughter or friend who can provide police and fire with medical history to assist the hospitals.
Dutra said the most common calls the police department receives during storms concerns local street flooding. Additionally, cars on the roads may think they are able to make it through the large puddles and end up getting stuck; the best thing is to stay home and inside.
If you know of a storm ahead of time, it’s important to be prepared. Dutra said individuals can start putting safety kits together today and suggests checking flashlights every couple months to make sure the batteries still work. For any questions or concerns, residents can reach out to the Police Department at 401-477-5035. For a disaster-supply kit checklist and evacuation checklist, individuals can visit the EMA’s website: www.riema.ri.gov.
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