Emergency Preparedness and Response:

Natural Disasters & Severe Weather (CDC)



Preparing for Any Emergency: The Basics

1. Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit:  Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days.  Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation.  Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers.  Include:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil.

  • One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.

  • A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.

  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.

  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks.

  • Sanitation supplies.

  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.

  • An extra pair of glasses.

You should also keep a smaller version of a disaster supply kit in your car.

2. Create an Emergency Communications Plan:

  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen.

  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation.  Include care plans for pets.

  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.”

  • Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster.

  • Pick two places to meet:

               a. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.

               b. Outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.  Everyone must know the address and phone number.

3. When in public places, locate stairways and emergency exits.

  • Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry.

4. Stay Tuned and Keep Informed: Listen to Local Radio or TV.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has information available about many natural disasters.  You can find further information on the natural disasters mentioned above and others at the American Red Cross Disaster Services and CDC Emergency Preparedness & Response (Natural Disasters) webpage.




Frequently Asked Questions:

CDC Resources:

Q.  I’m looking for general flood recovery information.

A.  Protect Your Health and Safety After a Flood (CDC)

Q.  I need information on how to cleanup my home after a flood.

A.  Kill Germs on Things Touched by Flood Water (CDC)

Q.  Is the food in my refrigerator safe to eat if the power was off?

A. Guidelines for Food Safety in Power Outages (SCHD)  (8/26/11)

Q.  My well has been flooded. How do I disinfect it?

A.  Disinfecting Wells Following an Emergency (CDC)

Q.  What do I do with my septic system after the flood?

A.   Septic Systems – What to do After the Flood (EPA)

Q.  Are there other ways to stay healthy after a flood?

A.  Staying Clean After a Disaster (CDC)

After a Flood: Precautions When Returning to Your Home

Flood Safety: Sanitation and Hygiene

EPA Resources:

Septic Systems: What to do after a Flood

Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home (EPA)

Food Safety Information (Updated: 8/31/11)

Keep Foods Safe / Consuma alimentos en buen estado

Post-Hurricane Food Safety FAQ's

Retail Food Establishment Information

Food Safety Information: In Spanish

Local and New Jersey Flood Resources:

Family Preparedness: Floods and Flash Floods (NJOEM)

Updates from Bound Brook OEM

Municipality-Specific Information

Flood Related Informational Brochures:

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html

NJDHSS Mold Advisory: http://www.state.nj.us/health/iep/documents/mold_bulletin.pdf

EPA Mold Resources: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html

Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems

Floods: Sanitation and Hygiene

Precautions When Returning to Your Home

Protect yourself from Animal- and Insect-Related Hazards after a Natural Disaster

Returning to your flooded Home / Cómo volver a entrar a su casa después de una inundación


Floods Can Take Several Hours to Days to Develop:

  • A Flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.

  • A Flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

When a Flood WATCH Is Issued . . .

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.

  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.

When a Flood WARNING Is Issued . . .

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.

Flash Floods Can Take Only a Few Minutes to a Few Hours to Develop

  • A Flash Flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in your area.

  • A Flash Flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.

When a Flash Flood WATCH Is Issued . . .

  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

When a Flash Flood WARNING Is Issued . . .

  • Or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!

  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades...they are there for your safety.

  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

Know What to Expect:

  • Know your area's flood risk--if unsure, call your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management office, or planning and zoning department.

  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.

  • Listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information.

Reduce Potential Flood Damage By

  • Raising your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.

  • Consult with a professional for further information if this and other damage reduction measures can be taken.

  • Consult with a professional for further information if this and other damage reduction measures can be taken.

Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

  • Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance.

  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing:

  • First aid kit and essential medications.

  • Canned food and can opener.

  • At least three gallons of water per person

  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.

  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.

  • Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)

  • Identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places: a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.




Español: ¿Está preparado para una inundación o para una inundación súbita?



Hurricane Survival Guide for New Jersey - NJOEM (August 2012)

Hurricanes: Factsheet

Know the difference between a hurricane watch and hurricane warning

  • Hurricane WATCH: Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the WATCH, usually within 36 hours.

  • Hurricane WARNING: Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the WARNING, usually within 24 hours.

Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan:

  • Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places--a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.

  • Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality. You may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Including the Following Items:

  • First aid kit and essential medications.

  • Canned food and can opener.

  • At least three gallons of water per person.

  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.

  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.

  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)

Prepare for High Winds

  • Install hurricane shutters or purchase precut 1/2" outdoor plywood boards for each window of your home. Install anchors for the plywood and predrill holes in the plywood so that you can put it up quickly.

  • Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through.

Know What to Do When a Hurricane WATCH Is Issued

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for up-to-date storm information.

  • Prepare to bring inside any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind.

  • Prepare to cover all windows of your home. If shutters have not been installed, use precut plywood as described above. Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended.

  • Fill your car's gas tank.

  • Recheck manufactured home tie-downs.

  • Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water, and medications.

Know What to Do When a Hurricane WARNING Is Issued

  • Listen to the advice of local officials, and leave if they tell you to do so.

  • Complete preparation activities.

  • If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows.

  • Be aware that the calm "eye" is deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds.

  • Be alert for tornadoes. Tornadoes can happen during a hurricane and after it passes over. Remain indoors, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows.

  • Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car and climb to higher ground.

Know What to Do After a Hurricane Is Over

  • Keep listening to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for instructions.

  • If you evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe to do so.

  • Inspect your home for damage.

  • Use flashlights in the dark; do not use candles.

Related Hurricane Resources: 

Resources Pertaining to Super Storm Sandy 2012:



Are You Ready for a Thunderstorm?

(Source: American Red Cross)

Before Lightning Strikes...

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts.

When a Storm Approaches...

  • Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles.

  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)

  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.

  •  Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job!

  •  Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.

If Caught Outside...

  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.

  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!

Protecting Yourself Outside...

  • Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.

  • Be a very small target!  Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible.

  • Do not lie flat on the ground--this will make you a larger target!

 After the Storm Passes...

  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas.

  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning...

  • People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.

  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.

  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places. Being struck by lightning can also cause nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing or eyesight.

  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries. Learn first aid and CPR by taking a Red Cross first aid and CPR course. Call your local Red Cross chapter for class schedules and fees.

 Español: ¿Está preparado para una tormenta eléctrica?

CDC and EPA recommend that water be considered microbiologically safe for drinking by bringing it to a rolling boil for 1 minute; this will inactivate all major waterborne bacterial pathogens and waterborne protozoa.  If viral pathogens are suspected in drinking water in communities at elevations above 6562 ft (2 km), the boiling time should be extended to 3 minutes.




Winter Storms/Extreme Cold:

Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety

(Click Here for Guide)

Stay Safe in Cold Weather!

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold (Ready.gov)

Winter Storms (Fact Sheet)

Winter Weather: During a Storm (CDC)



Related Links: 

Somerset County:

New Jersey:



Copyright © 1997 and beyond Somerset County. All rights reserved. This page was last updated 09/25/2013 by SBC.
 For questions regarding this website, please contact the Somerset County Health Department by clicking here