In an Emergency Are You Prepared?

The world watched in horror at the unimaginable devastation on the island of Maui. Raging forest fires have become an annual occurrence in California and Oregon. In the last two years, “Red Flag” warnings in Rockland County have become more frequent. The National Weather Service posts alerts when a combination of low humidity, warm temperatures and strong winds are expected, conditions that can cause fires to spread rapidly.

Palisades has numerous dead–end streets with only one way out, from Snedens Landing to Kopec Lane, Fern Road, Heyhoe Woods Road, Indian Hill Lane and Muroney Avenue to name a few. We visited the Sparkill Palisades Fire Station to discuss fire protocols. They know where the difficult areas are, and which streets have no fire hydrants, like Ludlow and Lawrence Lanes. They do drills, have weekly/monthly meetings and emergency reverse 911 systems that will send out a burst to cell phones in the area in a serious emergency (like an Amber alert). The fire department is 100% volunteer with about 40 firefighters. It is up to us to help them make their job more efficient.

In September, during a violent electrical storm, trees came down up on Lawrence Lane and lightning hit an O & R transformer at the end of Woods Road, knocking out power to residents for over 24 hours. The transformer was located on private property, behind a security fence. O & R’s faulty communication delayed servicing the transformer. Fortunately, the weather has been wet. In a drier time, if sparks were created, fire could have been a possibility.

In April, 100 homes were evacuated as brush fires spread over 70 acres in Stony Point, Haverstraw and Congers. At the same time, 10 acres in Teaneck burned. In 2013, 35 acres on Clausland Mountain in Blauvelt burned for several days. A 2003–2017 New York State DEC Forest fire map shows a high density of fires in Rockland County, higher than the state’s average. Causes? ... lightning, campfires, cigarettes, electrical sparks, burning debris, fireworks, playing with matches etc. If fire, flood and downed trees create havoc in Palisades are you prepared? Sit with your family and come up with an emergency plan, how you will prepare with non–perishable food (3 days), water (3 gallons per person), batteries and medical supplies. How will you care for your pets? If you needed to evacuate, do you have your passports/IDs and other irreplaceable documents handy, cash available? For those on dead–end streets, imagine how would you get out.

The Sparkill Palisades Fire Department asks us to help them do their job to get to you quickly:
• Make sure your house number is visible, preferably of reflective material.
• For those on narrow private roads, keep roads free of potholes and trim back shrubs and trees. Fire trucks, 10 feet wide and 15 feet high, need clear passage and visibility. Do not park on both sides of narrow streets (i.e. Washington Spring Road). Have workers park in your driveway.
• If you have a gate with a code or a home security system, it is critical that you register your codes and emergency contacts with the Orangetown Police Department and your security company.
• Exchange cell phone/email addresses with your neighbors. Organize a neighborhood watch/ communication chain for your street.
• Remove dead trees along roads or near powerlines that could fall in a storm. Downed trees trap people and make it impossible for emergency services.
• In the winter if you live near a fire hydrant, keep it shoveled. Never park next to a fire hydrant even if you think you can move your car quickly.

The Palisades Community Center will host an Emergency Preparedness meeting. Watch for dates.