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Hurricane Sandy: Review Avon's 2012 Emergency Preparedness Plan

The plan details the town's emergency operations plan, preparing your home and an emergency kit to be safe, how much food and water you should have stocked up, shelter locations, what to do with your pets, tips for braving power outages and more.

In the span of a couple months last year we experienced Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm. As we approach the anniversary of the latter, Hurricane Sandy is making it's way up the east coast and there is a chance it could hit Connecticut in time for Halloween.

The timing couldn't be better to review Avon's 2012 Home Guide to Emergency Preparedness just incase Sandy makes its way to Avon.

A PDF of the plan is available on the town website and attached to this article, but here are some of the highlights. You can also download the plan here: Emergency Plan Handbook.

Emergency Operations Center

  • The town will open its emergency operations center at the Avon Police Department if officials declare a town-wide emergency.
  • If there's a town-wide emergency, "police, fire, and emergency medical personnel will be recalled to duty to provide for your protection" and "public health, hospitals, emergency planners, public works, transportation, schools and volunteer organized will be mobilized to carry out their missions," according to the plan.
  • Make sure your family has its own emergency operations plan.

Information

  • You can stay informed about the nature of the emergency in Avon by listening to WTIC-AM (1080 AM) and WTIC-FM (96.5 FM) and watching local cable television stations.
  • As a side note, not in the plan, Patch will also provide updates as soon as they become available on the avon.patch.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/AvonPatch) and Twitter (@AvonPatch). We'll also be sending out breaking news alerts if warranted and including information in our free daily newsletter, so you can sign up to have those alerts sent to your email by clicking on the link provided: http://avon.patch.com/newsletters. You can call or text me at 860-356-6339 or Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com to send news tips and ask questions.

Food and Water

  • You should have enough food and water at home for three to five days for each person in case the emergency keeps you in the house that long and you lose power, which is a recommendation most emergency planners make, according to the plan. 
  • In the event you lose electricity, stock up on non-perishables that don't require refrigeration or cooking. That could include ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables; canned or boxed juices, milk and soup; condiments such as sugar, salt and pepper; high-energy food like peanut butter, jelly, low-sodium crackers, granola bars and trail mix; vitamins; food for infants or persons on special diets; cookies, hard candy, instant coffee and sweetened cereals;" as well as "bulk food items" like "wheat, powdered milk, corn and soy beans," the plan states.
  • Have enough water for a gallon per person per day, either in plastic containers or store-bought water bottles or jugs, according to the plan. Avoid bottles made of glass or other materials that might decompose. Rotate the stored water, which should be kept in a cool, dark place, every six months. The plan advises against storing tap water.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freeze doors closed to contain the cold air. Most refrigerators can keep food cold for two days, the plan states.

Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • In addition to food and water, also have "first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools, emergency supplies, medication and specialty items" in your emergency kit, according to the plan. Put your items in airtight plastic bags in a container that's easy to carry, like a "trash can, camping back pack or duffel bag."
  • Make a smaller emergency kit to store in your car.
  • Specialty items needed may include "formula, diapers, bottles, powered milk and medication" for your baby; "medications, prescriptions, denture needs, eye glasses and/or contact lenses" for adults; entertainment like games, books and quiet toys for kids; and important family documents such as "wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, passports, stocks and bonds, immunization records, important phone numbers, credit card accounts, social security cards and other personal family records," according to the plan.
  • Tools and supplies you might want handy are extra batteries, mess kits or paper cups, plates and utensils, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, cash and change, traveler's checks, non-electric can opener, small ABC fire extinguisher, tube tent, pliers, compass, water-proof matches, plastic storage containers, signal flares, paper and pencils, needles and thread, a medicine dropper, a whistle, plastic sheeting and a local map, toilet paper, soap, liquid detergent, feminine supplies plastic garbage bags with ties, a plastic bucket and lid, and disinfectant and chlorine bleach, according to the plan.
  • Make sure you have one or two changes of clothes for each person in your household, sturdy shoes or work boots, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, hats and gloves, thermal underwear and sunglasses, the plan states.
  • You should have a first aid kit in your car and vehicle that includes "sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, gauze pads, hypoallergenic adhesive tape, triangular bandages, sterile roller bandages, scissors, tweezers, needles, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, thermometer, tongue blades, tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pines, cleansing soap, latex gloves and sunscreen," as well as "aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication, Syrup of Ipecac, activated charcoal (for poisoning) and laxatives," according to the plan.

Emergency Shelters

  • Avon Volunteer Fire Department Company 1 at 25 Darling Dr. will be used as needed as a place for residents to "seek refuge," sleep and eat. Avon High School at 510 West Avon Rd. can also be opened as a shelter if needed. If you have questions about whether an emergency shelter has been opened, you can call the Avon Police Department dispatch center at 860-409-4200. 
  • If you go to a shelter, shut off your water and electricity, leave natural gas on unless you're instructed otherwise, lock your doors, bring your pets and emergency kits with you and use routes recommended by local authorities, the plan states.
  • What to bring: A change of clothes, bathing and sanitary supplies, medical prescriptions and supplies, denture and eye care materials and special dietary supplies, the plan states. Pets, with the exception of guide dogs, are not allowed in shelters.

When the Power Goes Out

  • Check to see if your neighbors lost it too.
  • Each household that has lost power should call Northeast Utilities at 1-800-286-2000 to report it.
  • Turn off major appliances like refrigerators, electric water heaters, air conditioners and pumps to avoid them overloading the electric lines when the power is restored.
  • Leave a couple light switches on.
  • Flashlights or battery-operated lanterns are recommended instead of candles and kerosene lanterns that could lead to a fire hazard, the plan states.
  • You can use a portable generator for "limited electrical power," but make sure you only run it outside to avoid a fire or carbon monoxide threat. Generators should be installed by a licensed electrician that comply with Northeast Utilities guidelines. For more information, you can call (800) 286-2000 or Avon's Building Department at (860) 409-4316.
  • Water systems with electric pumps, gas appliances and water heaters might not work in a power outage. Make sure you have another water source.
  • Plumbing might freeze when during a power outage if it's cold enough, so drain your pumps, supply lines, water heaters, boilers, tubs, sinks, commodes, dishwasher and washing machines. You can turn off the supply lines to avoid flooding "when temperatures rise," the plan states.
  • With your doctor's approval, any family members who need to use life support equipment like respirators, ventilators, oxygen equipment should be "listed with the Avon Offices of Social Services/Emergency Management" and Connecticut Light & Power," according to the plan. Have a plan for an alternate power source you can use.
  • "Trees are the primary cause of power outages in Avon," according to the town's emergency plan. Power companies have tree-trimming programs to avoid this, the plan states. Seek professional help when planting or trimming trees on your property that are near power lines.

Look Out for Each Other

  • When there's a major storm, check on your relatives, neighbors, the elderly and anyone with disabilities to make sure they're okay.

Pets

  • Keep in mind that pets are not allowed in the Avon emergency shelters. If you need to leave them at home for a short period, keep your pet in one room in the house and leave plenty of food and water out for him or her while you are away.
  • Find a place to board your pet or ask a friend or relative to check on your pet regularly. Make sure any kennel you bring your pet to has its own emergency plan and understands your pet's needs.
  • Pets need disaster kits too, such as an airline-approved carrier for each pet, ID, photo, vaccination records, registrations, special needs list, sufficient medication, a muzzle or leash, a substantial supply of pet food, clean water, bowls, a can opener, trash bags, bleach (disinfectant and water purification), blankets, towels, paper towels and waste disposal supplies. 
  • The Connecticut Humane Society (860-594-4502) and the Humane Society of the United States (202-452-1100) can provide more information.

Important Phone Numbers

  • Emergencies: 911
  • Avon Emergency Management Director James DiPace (860-409-4390) and Avon Police Dispatch (860-409-4200) are available by phone if you have any questions.
  • Fire department routine phone number: 860-677-2644
  • Social Services:  860-409-4346
  • Town Hall offices: 860-409-4300
  • Fuel assistance: 860-409-4346
  • CL&P: 860-947-2000
  • Northeast Utilities: 860-947-2000
  • Public Works: 860-673-6151
  • Farmington Valley Health District: 860-352-2333
  • CT Water Co.: 800-428-3985
  • Avon Water Co.: 860-678-0001
  • Unionville Water Co.: 860-673-0079
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