Due to the current heatwave Bergen County is experiencing, The Lakes at Darlington County Park have opened for daily operation ahead of schedule. Effective immediately, The Lakes are open for swimming 10am-6pm, daily.
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Emergency Preparedness Information

Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. When disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond. Some disasters such as hurricanes, hazardous materials spills, and fires may call for you and your family to evacuate. Other disasters could require you to shelter in place, meaning that you and your family may be confined to your home.


Family Disaster Kit

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Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. When disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond. Some disasters may call for you and your family to evacuate (hurricanes, hazardous materials spills, fires). Other disasters could mean that you and your family may be confined at home. Preparing a Family Disaster Kit can help your family endure an evacuation or home confinement.

When Disaster Strikes 

  • Authorities and relief workers will respond but cannot reach everyone immediately
  • You could get help in hours or it may take days
  • Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?

Prepare Your Kit

  • Gather the supplies that are listed. You may need them if your family is confined at home or during an evacuation.
  • Place the items you'd most likely need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container.
  • There are basic items you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools & emergency supplies, special items (prescription & non-prescription medications, sanitary items, important documents).


  • Store water in plastic containers. Avoid using milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water daily. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
  • Store one (1) gallon of water per person per day. Keep at least a three day supply per person (for drinking, food preparation and sanitation)


  • Store at least a three day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food pack a can of sterno.
  • Pack the following foods which can also be taken with you during an evacuation: -
    • Ready-to-eat canned meat, fruits, vegetables, and staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
    • Don't forget a non-electric can opener.
    • Canned juices, high energy foods, vitamins, baby formula & bottles, and powdered milk.
    • Prescription Medications: Store in waterproof container, keep prescription records ( check shelf life) accessible and current. Bring a medicine dropper and cooler (if needed for RX).
    • Dentures, contact lenses, and eyewear.

First Aid Kit

- A well stocked first aid kit should include the following items:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes,
    • 2"& 4" sterile gauze pads
    • 2" & 3" sterile roller bandages
    • triangular bandages, assorted safety pins
  • Latex gloves,
  • Sunscreen
  • Scissors, tweezers, needle
  • Moistened towelettes, antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Non-Prescription Drugs:
    • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever.
    • Anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, laxative.
    Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting) and Activated charcoal. (Only use if advised by the Poison Control Center 1-800-POISON-1)

Remember to store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version on the Disaster Preparedness Kit in the trunk of your car. Change stored water & food every six months.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Plastic storage containers, mess kits, paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, plastic storage containers.
  • Shut off wrench, to turn off household gas and water.
  • Battery operated radio and flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Cash or traveler's checks, change.
  • Utility knife
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Pliers, tape, compass, needles, thread, signal flare, plastic sheeting or tent (for shelter).
  • Paper, pencil, whistle, map of the area.


  • Toilet paper, baby diapers, soap, liquid detergent, personal hygiene items, disinfectant, household chlorine bleach.
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid and plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)

Special Items:

  • Games and books for children
  • Important family documents (keep in waterproof container) - Birth, marriage and death certificates, driver's license, passport, insurance policies, social security card, health records, bank and credit card account numbers, safety deposit box keys
  • Inventory of valuable household

Disaster Psychology Preparedness 

(Download an Adobe PDF of this information - Click Here) 
When disaster strikes, physical assistance may not be only part of what survivors need. Psychological First Aid" for disaster-induced stress and trauma will help the survivors.

Disaster-induced stress and trauma are "normal reactions" to an "abnormal" event. 

Emotional reactions will vary and may be influenced by:

  • Prior experience with the same or similar event
  • The intensity and length of the event
  • Pre-incident stressors
  • The length of time since the event
  • Loss of loved ones, housing etc. . .

Emotional reactions can vary depending upon the phase of the event

  • Before the event, as concern escalates and information is made available through the media and the authorities
  • During the event's impact - responding to the immediate effects of the disaster
  • Immediately after the event's impact when rescue may be needed
  • Immediately after the event when an inventory is made of losses - personal and material
  • Well after the event during recovery 

Traumatic Stress Reactions

A traumatic stress reaction is an emotional aftershock of a disaster or other significantly stressful event. Symptoms may occur immediately after the event or weeks after the event is over. 

Some common signs/symptoms of emotional reactions to a disaster:


  • Nausea and/or upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping


  • Anxiety and/or fear
  • Guilt
  • Grief and/or depression
  • Anger


  • Nightmares
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating


  • Avoidance and/or withdrawing
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Erratic behavior

Taking care of yourself following a traumatic event . . . 

  • Try to rest a bit more
  • Contact friends and talk
  • Reestablish your normal schedule as soon as possible
  • Fight against boredom
  • Physical activity can be helpful
  • Eat well-balanced and regular meals (even when you don't feel like it)
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs taken without physician recommendation/prescription
  • Recurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal - don't try to fight them - they'll decrease over time and be less painful
  • Seek out professional help if the feelings become prolonged or intense

Taking care of others following a traumatic event . . .

  • Listen carefully
  • Spend time with the traumatized person
  • Offer your assistance and a listening ear even if they have not asked for help
  • Help them with everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for children etc . . .
  • Give them time to be alone
  • Help them stay away from alcohol and drugs
  • Keep in mind what they've been through
  • Don't try to explain it away
  • Don't tell them that they are lucky it wasn't worse
  • Don't take their anger, other feelings or outbursts personally

Get further assistance if . . .

  • The person is having life-threatening symptoms
  • The person is suicidal or homicidal
  • The person is out of control

Emergency Contacts

Emotional emergencies or information 24 hours a day 

In Bergen:

 262-HELP (201-262-4357)

Physical emergencies

 - dial 9-1-1(police, fire & EMS)



Flooding Preparedness

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Flash floods occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. 

Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges. Flash floods can also trigger catastrophic mudslides. 
Flash floods are the #1 weather related killer in the United States. 

National Weather Service . . . 

Staying current with forecasts from the National Weather Service can be an important part of flood preparedness. Individuals can purchase a NOAA weather radio to directly hear the forecasts, advisories, watches and/or warnings. Some NOAA weather radios can alarm when there is a serious/dangerous weather condition. These radios are available at many stores. 

The following terms may be used by the National Weather service:

  • Flash Flood or Flood Watch means that flash flooding or flooding is possible within the designated watch area.
  • Flash Flood or Flood Warning means that flash flooding or flooding has been reported or is imminent - take necessary steps at once.
  • An Urban and Small Stream Advisory means that flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas (such as railroad underpasses and urban storms drains) is occurring.
  • Flash Flood or Flood Statement is follow-up information regarding a flash flood/flood event.

Before a flood occurs. . .

Find out if you live in a flood prone area. You can check with your local building department to see the flood maps for your municipality. If you are in a flood zone - purchase sufficient flood insurance. 
Flood losses are not covered under normal homeowner's insurance. Learn how your community would alert you if a flood was occurring or predicted. 

Pre-assemble flood-fighting supplies like plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags. Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains. 

As a last resort have large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs or basins from water rising up through the pipes. 

Maintain a disaster supply kit at home. 
A kit will have (at minimum): • First aid supplies • Flashlight with extra batteries • Non-perishable food • Drinking water • Blanket(s) or sleeping bag(s) • Rain gear or a change of clothing  

During the flood . . .

  • Monitor commercial radio, television, NOAA Weather radio or your Emergency Alerting Station for information
  • Be prepared to evacuate to higher ground if ordered to do so by authorities
  • Adhere to any emergency orders of authorities
  • Bring possessions inside the house or secure them
  • Do not touch any electrical appliances that are wet or standing in water
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so. 

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. 

After the flood . . .

  • If food or medicine has come in contact with flood waters, throw it out.
  • Stay out of buildings if flood waters remain around the building
  • When entering buildings after a flood use extreme caution
    • Wear sturdy shoes and use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings
    • Examine walls, floors, doors and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapse
    • Watch out for animals, like snakes, that may have come into your home with flood waters
    • Take pictures of the damage - both of the house and its contents for insurance claims.
    • Look for fire hazards
      • Broken or leaking gas lines
      • Flooded electrical circuits
      • Submerged furnaces or electrical appliances -
      • Flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream -
    • Report potential emergencies to authorities.
    • It's best to have a professional pump out a basement - to avoid further structural damage. FEMA recommends pumping out about one-third of the water per day.

Driving in Bad Weather

(Download a PDF of this information - Click Here) 

It is best to not drive during inclement weather. However, if you must drive, make sure your vehicle is operating safely and stay informed on weather conditions. 


  • Improve visibility, turn on your lights and defroster. NJ law requires your headlights to be on when your wipers are on.
  • Avoid sudden moves, try to drive in the tracks of the car ahead, reduce your speed, allow for additional stopping distance.
  • Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of your car lose contact with the road and ride up on a wedge of water. Make sure your tires have proper treads and are properly inflated. If you do hydroplane, keep the steering wheel straight, take your foot off the gas. Don't hit your brakes or try to steer. As you slow, the weight of the car will cause it to settle down onto the road again.
  • Be very cautious in light rain or mist. Oil and dirt on the roadway surface make driving extra slippery.
  • Remember, puddles can hide potentially damaging potholes.

Inclement weather . . . 

May change the road conditions, contribute to collisions and other road obstructions. 

Always follow directions of police officers and be alert for barricades, warnings, and debris.


  • Do not attempt to drive through flood waters. The water may be deeper than it looks. Two (2) feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
  • If you happen to drive into an area where water is running swiftly, the force of the current may pull your car to one side. If this happens ease off the gas pedal, but don't touch the brakes. Then steer away from the swift water.
  • If your car is caught in a flash flood, get out of your car immediately and move to higher ground.

Winter storms:

  • Before driving, thoroughly clean ice and snow off all windows, the hood and the trunk.
  • Utilize snow tires and chains if necessary.
  • Drive slowly. Depending on the weight of your vehicle, you will need three (3) to twelve (12) times more stopping distance on icy roads than on dry surfaces.
  • Ease off the accelerator when stopping.
  • Remember, bridges and overpasses usually freeze first, slow down when approaching them.
  • If caught in a blizzard, stay in your car. Leave a window partially open. Clear the snow away from your tailpipe. Run the engine & heater for about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm.

Being prepared includes . . .

Listening to the radio for road closures and conditions.

Always knowing alternate routes to your destination in case your primary route is blocked.


  • If you see a patch of fog ahead, slow down before you reach it.
  • Turn on your low beam headlights or fog lights.
  • Turn on your defroster and windshield wipers.
  • Be alert for slow moving vehicles and traffic stopped ahead.
  • In heavy fog, roll all your windows down. You may actually hear other cars before you see them.


  • Never try to outrun a tornado.
  • If you believe a tornado is very close, leave your car. If you can't find shelter in a safe building, lie flat in the nearest depression such as a ditch or gully with your arms over your head.

Remember - It is safest to use a cellular phone when stopped in a safe location. 9-1-1 is for emergencies only.


  • If a hurricane watch is issued for your area, pack your car with essentials and fill your gas tank.
  • You may be ordered to evacuate. Listen to the radio for instructions. Be familiar with designated evacuation routes and use them.
  • Flooding can happen without warning both before and after a hurricane.
  • Watch for downed utility lines, trees, and debris from hurricane force winds.


  • It is safest to stay in your car when lightning is present. If you have to park, do so in an open area away from trees.
  • Watch for flooded roadways.
  • If you are driving after a thunderstorm, be vigilant for downed branches and power lines or other debris lying in the road.
  • Hail associated with thunderstorms can hamper visibility and may shatter windshields.


Animal Emergency Preparedness

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The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan should include your pets. 


Ask friends, relatives, or others outside your area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable together; but be prepared to house them separately.

Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies.

Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency. Include 24-hour phone numbers.
Include pet supplies as part of your family preparedness kit.


In the event of an emergency you may have to leave your home quickly. Your pet relies upon you to take care of him or her. 

Assemble this kit now:

  • Medications & medical records in a waterproof container
  • Sturdy leashes and/or carriers
  • A 3 day supply of food and potable water with bowls
  • A picture of your pet(s) in case they get lost
  • Information on feeding times, medical and/or behavioral issues
  • Litter and litter box for cats
  • Pet beds & toys, if easily transportable

Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars that are securely fastened and have ID tags containing up-to-date information. Attach to the collar or tag the phone number of a friend or relative outside the area in case you must leave your home and become separated from your pet in an emergency. 

Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. The only exceptions to this policy are service animals who assist people with disabilities. 


Bring your pets inside immediately. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can keep them from running away. 


If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take; but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in danger. Confine your pet to a safe area inside. Place a notice outside in a visible area advising there are pets in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.


  • Transport in a secure travel cage or carrier.
  • In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside.
  • During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the bird's feathers periodically.
  • Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Provide a few slices of fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content.
  • Have leg bands and a photo for ID.
  • Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area.
  • Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier


  • Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site.
  • If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you.
  • Take a water bowl large enough for soaking as well as a heating pad.
  • When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.


Hamsters, gerbils etc. . . should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered.
Take bedding materials, food, bowls and water bottles.


In the first few days after a disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.

The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.


Winter Weather

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Winter storms are deceptive killers since most of the deaths that occur are indirectly related to the actual storm.

Winter Weather Facts:

  • People die in traffic accidents on icy roads
  • People die of heart attacks while shoveling snow
  • People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold

Winter weather terms of the National Weather Service 

Blizzard Warning:

 Issued when snow and strong winds will combine to produce blinding snow (visibilities near zero/white-outs), deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Wind Chill:

 What the temperature feels like to the human body based on both air temperature and wind speed. 

Wind Chill Advisory:

 Issued when potentially dangerous wind chill readings (-20 to -34 degrees Fahrenheit) are expected. 

Wind Chill Watch:

 Issued when life-threatening wind chill readings (-35 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) are possible. 

Wind Chill Warning:

 Issued when wind chill readings (-35 degrees or lower) are expected to be life-threatening. 

Winter Weather Advisory:

 Issued when winter conditions (snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain/ice) are expected to cause significant inconvenience and may be hazardous. 

Winter Storm Watch: 

Issued when severe winter conditions (heavy snow and/or significant freezing rain/ice) are possible within the next day or two. Winter Storm Warning: Issued when severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area. Six (6) inches or more of snow and/or ice accumulations of 1/4 inch or more. 



 Damage to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Warning signs include loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, Get medical help immediately ! If you must wait for help, Slowly re-warm affected areas. If the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities. 


Low body temperature. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If a person's body temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, Immediately seek medical attention.


  • Begin warming the person slowly, warm the body core first. If needed use your own body heat to help.
  • Get the person into dry clothing and wrap them in a warm blanket covering them completely, including the head and neck.
  • Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any hot beverage or food; warm broth is better.
  • Do not warm extremities (arms & legs) first! This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure.

Strain from the cold and hard labor may cause a heart attack.

  • Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snows, especially if you are not in peak physical condition.
  • If you must shovel snow, take it slow and lift small amounts, especially when removing heavy snow, slush or ice.

Food & Drink Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids (water and juice; limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol) to prevent dehydration. 

How to be prepared at home:

  • Keep a battery powered radio and extra batteries for news and official broadcasts.
  • Store food that can be prepared without an electric or gas stove.
  • Stock emergency water and cooking supplies
  • Have flashlights, battery-powered lams and extra batteries in case of a power outage. Candles and matches can be a fire hazard
  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them and knows fire prevention rules
  • Keep in touch with elderly neighbors or family

Be prepared if you go out:

  • Wear layers of thin clothing instead of single layers of thick clothing
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. If you add unaccustomed exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, you may risk heart attack or stroke.
  • Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
  • Cover you mouth with scarves to protect your lungs from directly inhaling the extremely cold air.

Winter driving tips:

  • If you must travel, take public transportation whenever possible. If you must use a car, take winter driving seriously. Travel by daylight, and keep others informed of your schedule. Drive with extreme caution; never try to save time by driving fast or using back-road shortcuts.
  • Make sure you car has fuel, and is equipped with chains or snow tires
  • Keep you car "winterized" with antifreeze. Carry a "winter car kit" that includes a windshield scaper, flashlight, tow chain or rope, shovel, tire chains, a blanket, a bag of sand or salt, a fluorescent distress flag and an emergency flare in case you are trapped in a winter storm. Keep extra outerwear and pre-packaged food in the car. Make sure you windshield wipers are working properly and there is windshield washer fluid in the car.

If a blizzard traps you in your car:

  • Pull off the highway; stay calm and remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
  • Turn on your emergency flashers and hang a distress flag fro the radio aerial or window.
  • Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close but be too far to walk in deep snow.
  • If you run the engine to keep warm, open a window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear away snow from the exhaust pipe.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat (by clapping and moving around) but avoid over exertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat as a blanket.
  • Never let everyone in the car sleep at one time. One person should look out for the rescue crews.
  • Be careful not to use up battery power. Balance electrical energy needs -- the use of lights, heat and radio -- with supply.
  • At night, turn on the inside dome light, so work crews can spot you.


(Download a PDF of this information - Click Here)

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone which forms over a tropical ocean. Although the official hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, they can occur at any time. 

Hurricane Facts:

  • The word "Hurricane" is derived from colonial Spanish and Caribbean words meaning evil spirits and big winds. Hurricanes are considered the most powerful force on earth.
  • Coastal flooding caused by storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. A storm surge is a large dome of water often 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coastline where the hurricane makes landfall. The surge of water topped by waves is devastating.
  • Hurricane-force winds, 74 mph or more can destroy buildings and down power lines near the coast and well inland.
  • Hurricanes bring heavy rains which can cause significant river and inland flooding. Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes, which can add to their destructive power.

Hurricanes are classified on the Safir-Simpson Scale

  • Category 1: 74-95 mph
  • Category 2: 96-110 mph
  • Category 3: 111-130 mph
  • Category 4: 131-155 mph
  • Category 5: >155 mph

When a hurricane is approaching . . .

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture that can blow away and cause damage or injury.
  • Shutter or board all windows and secure double-door entrances
  • Keep your vehicle's gas tank filled
  • Prepare a hurricane evacuation kit to include: First Aid kit Bottled water
    • Two (2) week supply of medicine Blankets or sleeping bags Extra clothing Pet ID, carrier, food & medication
    • Personal items (toys, snacks)
    • Important documents (valid ID, insurance info & money)
  • If ordered to evacuate - obey immediately. Turn off gas, water, and electricity, and unplug small appliances.
  • Inform family or friends outside of the warning area of your evacuation plans.
  • Remember to help neighbors who may require special assistance (infants, senior citizens, and people with disabilities).

During a hurricane. . .

  • If outside attempt to get into a building.
  • Do not drive through flood waters.
  • If staying in your home:
    • Turn refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary
    • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities
    • Fill bathtub and large containers with water for sanitary purposes
    • Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered
    • Go to an interior first floor room
    • Avoid using candles and other open flames

After a hurricane. . .

  • Use 9-1-1 to report emergencies only. (Injuries, loose power lines, etc...)
  • Keep listening to a radio or television.
  • Wait until an area is declared safe before entering. Roads may be closed for your protection.
  • Do not drive or walk into flooded areas. Find an alternate route.
  • Check gas, water, and electrical lines and appliances for damage.
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated.
  • Be aware of insects, rodents and animals driven to higher ground by flood waters.
  • Assess your home's damage. Take pictures if possible.
  • Be alert for the "EYE" of the storm. The eye is a period of calm during the storm. 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.

  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home if necessary.

What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a warning? 

hurricane watch is issued by the National Weather Service when hurricane conditions are possible in the specified watch area usually within 36 hours. 
hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in the specified warning area usually within 24 hours.
For more information on hurricanes on the web:
National Weather Service New York, NY Hurricane Page
National Hurricane Center


Thunderstorms & Lightning

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Thunderstorms can bring heavy rains, flash flooding, tornadoes, strong winds, lightning, and hail. 

Flash floods/floods are the number one killer associated with thunderstorms with nearly 140 fatalities a year. 

Although thunderstorms in this area are less likely to spawn tornadoes than elsewhere in the United States, most wind damage is from "straight-line" rather than tornadic winds. "Downbursts", a type of straight-line wind, can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado. 

Lightning occurs with all thunderstorms. 

Its electrical charge and intense heat can electrocute on contact, cause electrical failures, split trees, and ignite structure and brush fires. Hail associated with thunderstorms can be smaller than peas or as large as softballs and can be very destructive. 

While some thunderstorms can be seen approaching, others hit without warning.

It is important to learn to recognize the danger signs and plan ahead. When thunderstorms are forecast or skies darken, look and listen for:

  • Dark, towering or threatening clouds
  • Increasing wind
  • Flashes of lightning
  • The sound of thunder

When a thunderstorm is approaching . . .

At Home:

  • Secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture that can blow away and cause damage or injury.
  • Bring lightweight objects inside.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Avoid bathtubs, water faucets, and sinks because metal pipes can transmit electricity.
  • Pets are particularly vulnerable to hail and should be brought inside.

If Outdoors:

  • Attempt to get into a building or car.If no structure is available, get to an open space and squat low to the ground as quickly as possible.
  • The less contact you have with the ground, the better.
  • Be aware of potential for flooding in low-lying areas.Avoid tall objects such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines and power lines.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles and camping equipment.

What is a severe thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least ¾" in diameter, winds of 59 mph or higher or tornadoes. 

What is the difference between a watch and a warning?

A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service when the weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm is likely to develop. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. At this point, the danger is very serious and everyone should go to a safe place, turn on a battery-operated radio or television, and wait for further information. 



Lightning is a major threat during a thunderstorm. In the United States, between 75 and 100 people are hit and killed by lightning each year.

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice 

Fact: Lightning can strike the same place twice and may strike it multiple times during the same discharge. 


Myth: If it is not raining, then there is no danger from lightning. 

Fact: Lightning has been detected as far as ten miles from the edge of a thunderstorm cell, and at locations with blue skies overhead.


First aid recommendations for lightning victims:

Most lightning victims can actually survive an encounter with lightning, especially with timely medical treatment. A person who has been struck by lightning does not carry an electrical charge that can shock other people. 
If a person is struck by lightning: Call 9–1-1 to provide the location and information about the incident including the number of people injured. Look for burns where the lightning entered and exited the body. 
If the strike cause the victim's heart and breathing to stop, give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until medical professionals arrive and take over. 

If your house is struck by lightning:

  • Check all around the interior and exterior to make sure that it did not start a fire If you smell or see smoke, call 9-1-1.
  • All appliances and electrical devices that were plugged in when the lightning struck the house should be checked for damage before being used.
  • Indications of possible damage include scorched outlets, scorch marks on the device, melted cords and broken light bulbs.

Remember to help neighbors who may require special assistance (infants, senior citizens, and people with disabilities). 

If you are driving after a thunderstorm, be vigilant for downed branches and power lines or other debris lying in the road. Do not touch or drive over downed lines.

For more information on electrical emergencies click here.


Electrical Outages & Home Safety

(Download a PDF of this information - Click Here)


  • Check your fuse or breaker box for blown fuses or tripped circuits. If they are okay, see if neighbors are without power.
  • Call your utility immediately. You may be asked for information, or hear a message if the situation has already been reported. 9-1-1 is for reporting emergencies ONLY.
  • Turn off all electrical equipment to prevent overloading the system when power is restored.
  • Turn on a porch light and one inside light so you and utility crews will know when service is restored.
  • Listen to the radio (battery-powered) for updates on major electrical outages.
  • If your neighbors' power comes back on, but yours does not, call your utility company again.



 Each person should have their own flashlight. Store extra bulbs and batteries. 


 Self-contained chemical lights that are activated by bending. Work well as night-lights for children. 


Can be dangerous 


If you see any wire lying on the ground (or dangling in the air) don't touch it with anything - stay back. Call your utility company immediately. Keep kids and pets away.

NEVER touch a downed wire. Electricity can travel through your body causing serious injury or death. If you see a downed line take these precautions:

  • Expect every wire/line to be "live". The line does not have to spark or sizzle to carry electricity. Cable, phone and alarm lines may be ELECTRIFIED. Do not touch.
  • If a power line is touching someone stay away - you cannot help. If you touch the person, you could become a victim too.
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergency help.

  • If a utility line falls across your vehicle, don't get out! Wait for emergency help to arrive.
  • Never touch metal (like fences or guard rails) that have a wire laying on it. It may be electrified.

Who to call to report a power outage in Bergen County

  • PSE&G 800-436-7734

  • Rockland Electric 877-434-4100

Remember: Utility crews may have to remove limbs, replace parts, close circuit breakers. The more serious the problem, the longer it will take to restore customer service

Important Information when Reporting a Power Outage

  • Name, address and cross street
  • Time of outage
  • Are lights out, flickering or dim?
  • Are the neighbors' lights out?
  • Have any wires fallen to the ground?
  • Tree limbs on lines?
  • Utility pole number?


Outages can occur at any time of year, but during cold weather the temperature inside your home can drop rapidly. Tips for staying warm:

  • Save Body Heat - Wear a hat, even while sleeping. Wear loose layers of clothing to trap body heat. Use blankets.
  • Lock in Home Heat - Pick one room (on a sunny side of the house) and close it off to keep the heat in.


  • Your Freezer will keep food frozen during an outage for about two days if it's full; one day if it's less than half-full. Don't open the door.
  • Protect your pipes: If the power is out and the weather is freezing, keep a steady drip of cold water on an inside faucet and wrap pipes to prevent damage.
  • Automatic Garage Door Openers won't work if the power is out. Check to see if you have a manual override.
  • Home Computers: Install a surge protector (not just a power strip) to protect your computer from power surges.
  • Charcoal or propane grills: NEVER use a cooking device designed for outdoors inside the home. They produce carbon monoxide which can be deadly.
  • Cordless phones won't work if the power is out. Have a backup phone that does not need electricity to work.
  • Generators: Never connect a home generator to a wall outlet. If used incorrectly, portable or auxiliary generators used for backup power at home can ruin your electrical system and start a fire. They can also feed electricity back into the utility system. This is very dangerous for crews repairing lines. Home generators should be installed by a licensed electrical contractor. Generators installed in accordance with electrical safety codes, require an electrical permit and an electrical inspection.

    Improperly installed or improperly used generators pose a serious - sometimes fatal - risk to homeowners and utility workers

Emergency Kit Check list

  • Flashlights or chemical light-sticks
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Paper plates/ plastic utensils
  • Manual can opener
  • Bottled drinking water
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery or wind-up alarm clock


Sheltering In-Place

(Download a PDF of this information - Click Here)

Evacuation is not always the safest option in the event of a hazardous material or other type of emergency. Your home or workplace can be a safe haven from an emergency. 

Up-front preparations will help. 

"Sheltering In-Place" or "Protecting In-Place" means staying inside your home or other building until emergency officials give an "all-clear" signal. 

Sheltering In-place can be your safest option in some emergencies. Sheltering In-Place is most commonly used for hazardous material emergencies but can also be used during some storms and some police emergencies where evacuation and exposure to the outside can be life-threatening. 

Sheltering In-Place preparations complement your other family emergency preparedness efforts. 

Sheltering In-Place supplies . . .

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, battery powered or cellular phone (if no phone in room)
  • Snack foods, water or drinks, pet foods
  • Plastic sheeting for windows, doors, air vents or other opening. 
    • You may want to pre-cut and label them Rolls of duct tape for the plastic sheeting
    • Towel for under the door First Aid Kit

Prepare your home before . . .

  • Choose a room for a "safe-room": Ideally, the room has few windows, large enough to hold the number of people you wish and has access to water. A bedroom with an adjoining bath is a great place.
  • Prepare window coverings: Windows should be sealed to prevent hazards from entering. Measure windows and skylights - cut plastic (adding 6" to the borders) to be placed over the windows. Label the sheets for each window. 
    • For a serious wind condition think about something heavier to guard against broken glass entering the room (wood, heavy cardboard, even a mattress).
  • Prepare vent and door coverings: Like the windows, measure each air vent, door and any other opening leading outside the room. Cut, label and store plastic sheeting.
  • Assemble shelter in-place supplies: Your supplies should be stored in the pre-designated room. An under-the-bed box may work well or use a container that fits on a closet shelf or in a cabinet.


High Heat Preparedness

(Download a PDF of this information - Click Here)

Heat kills by pushing the body beyond its limits. Under normal conditions, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is lowered and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. Children under the age of five and the elderly are more susceptible to the effects of heat. 

Heat terms of the National Weather Service 

A Heat Advisory is issued when the heat index is expected to be between 105-115 for less than 3 hours in a day.

An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the heat index is expected to exceed 115 degrees during the day or the heat index will exceed 105 degrees for more than 3 hours for two consecutive days.

The Heat Index is what the temperature feels like to the human body based on both the air temperature and humidity.


  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Spend whatever time possible in air conditioning – if air conditioning is not available stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine or go to a public building where air conditioning is available.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect more of the sun's energy than dark colors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water's the best. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Eat light meals spread out over the day.
  • Reduce activity levels when possible in hot weather.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
  • Avoid getting sunburned - use protection if you must go outside.

Watch out for others

Check on your neighbors and family - especially those who are elderly and/ or children. High heat can kill. Parents and caretakers should be careful not to overdress children and to give them plenty of fluids. 


  • Protect windows. Shades, draperies, awnings or louvers on windows can reduce the effects of the morning or afternoon sun by as much as 80%.
  • Install temporary reflectors, such as aluminum foil covered cardboard to reflect any heat back outside.
  • Keep the cool air inside by weather-stripping doors and windowsills.
  • Storm windows can keep the heat of a house in the summer out the same way they keep the cold out in the winter.
  • Inspect, clean or replace your air conditioner filters regularly.
  • Heavy use of air conditioners and other electrical devices may contribute to power outages or reductions. Turn off what electrical devices you don't need.
  • Check central air conditioning ducts for proper installation. Insulate spaces around window air conditioners.
  • Close any floor heat registers.

Don't leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person or pets in an enclosed car -- not even for a minute -- as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels. 


Sunburn - Symptoms: skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.

  • First Aid: take a shower, using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally. If blisters occur, apply dry, sterile dressings and get medical attention.

Heat Cramps - Symptoms: painful spasms usually in leg and abdominal muscles. Heavy sweating.

  • First Aid: firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue.

Heat Exhaustion - Symptoms: heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. Weak pulse. Normal temperature possible. Fainting, vomiting. 

  • First Aid: get victim to lie down in a cool place. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place. Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue. If vomiting occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke) - Symptoms: high body temperature (106+). Hot, dry skin. Rapid, strong pulse. Possible unconsciousness. Victim will likely not sweat. 

  • First aid: This is a severe medical emergency. Call the emergency medical service by dialing 9-1-1. Delay can be fatal. Do not give fluids. Move victim to cooler environment. Cool bath or sponging may reduce body temperature before ambulance arrives. Use extreme caution.


Heat Emergencies

Periods of high heat and humidity can have a detrimental effect on people. In cooperation with the Bergen County Department of Health Services and the municipalities of Bergen, a two-stage heat emergency plan was developed.

In the first stage, termed a heat alert, public information is distributed about the hazards of heat. During a heat alert, people are encouraged to: 

  • Spend whatever time possible in air conditioning
  • Maintain an adequate food and fluid intake - light meals spread out over the day are best
  • Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine intake (Consult with your physician to see if you need additional salt)
  • Whenever possible, reduce activity levels in hot weather

The elderly are particularly susceptible to the effects of heat. Additionally, children under the age of five and especially those under one year, are also sensitive to heat's effects.

The second phase of the heat emergency plan encompasses the declaration of a heat emergency. Air conditioned buildings are made available throughout the County for persons who require them. Public outdoor activities and work may be curtailed for the prevention of illness.


Emergency Veterinary Care

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association - 58.9 percent of all U.S. Households own animals. While the care of animals in disasters should never take precedence of ther the care of people, providing care for animals may facilitate the personal safety and care of a large segment of the human population.

Bergen County Emergency Management in conjunction with animal welfare groups and the veterinary community has developed a comprehensive plan for animals in an emergency.

Steps you can take NOW to protect your pet/ animal: 

Make sure your pet has a collar with identification 


Assemble a pet disaster supply kit

  • Medications/ medical records in a waterproof container
  • Sturdy leashes and/or carriers
  • Current photos of your pet(s) - in case they get lost
  • Food, potable water, cat litter/pan & can opener
  • Information on feeding times, medical and/or behavioral issues
  • Pet beds & toys, if easily transportable

Find pet friendly lodging places in case you have to leave your home 

  • You can contact relatives, hotels or animal boarders

These steps will help you take care of your pet during an emergency. Don't wait. 

 (Animal Emergency Fact Sheet)


Bergen County has a tremendous amount of traffic. In the event of a serious incident or accident that requires a complete closure of a State roadway, the Traffic Incident Management Plan is implemented.

This plan was produced in cooperation with the Bergen County Traffic Officer's Association, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Bergen County Police Chief's Association and the Bergen County Police Department. 

Specially trained officers are sent to the scene of the incident to work with NJDOT and local police agencies to divert traffic around the incident in a safe and timely manner. 

Contact Us

Captain Matthew J. Tiedemann, CEM, CPM

County Coordinator

Lindsay Agar

Executive Assistant

 Bergen County Department of Public Safety

Division of Emergency Management

285 Campgaw Road • Mahwah, NJ 07430

(201) 785-5757

Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm (excluding County holidays)