From The Mayor's Desk ...
If there's anything we learned from the blackout that hit New York City in 2003 or the terrible hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast a couple of years ago, it's that it's really important to always be prepared for the unexpected.
Over the past six years, our Ad-ministration has done everything possible to make sure that no matter what kind of emergency strikes the city, we will be ready. That includes conducting practice drills involving a range of government and private agencies and developing new citywide response plans to a major hurricane, or outbreak of pandemic flu.
We've also encouraged all New Yorkers to take their own precautions - through a campaign called "Ready New York." The cornerstone of the campaign is a guide that provides practical information on how to prepare for and respond to a disaster. More than four million brochures have been distributed so far - and in recent weeks we've also reached out to businesses and encouraged them to create their own emergency plans.
But we're not stopping there. This month, we're releasing kid-friendly companions to "Ready New York": one for elementary school students; the other for middle- and high-schoolers. Both are easy for anyone to understand, but are filled with fun games and puzzles so that kids will actually take the time to read them.
The version for elementary school-ers includes tear-out pages for parents which outline the three important steps that all families should take to prepare. These steps are also detailed in our pamphlet for teenagers and echoed in all of our emergency preparedness materials.
The first step is making a plan for how your family is going to handle an emergency. That includes compiling a list of emergency contact numbers and agreeing on a sapecial spot to find each other in case you can't get near your home. Second is stocking up on supplies - like water, canned food, and a first aid kit - in case an emergency forces you to remain inside your home for several days. And the third and final step is preparing a "Go Bag" filled with water, non-perishable food, medications, and copies of important papers - in case an emergency forces you to evacuate your home.
"Ready New York for Kids," which has been sponsored by the insurance company A.I.G., will be available in nine languages and will go to all 1.1 million students in our public schools. And anyone can get a copy by calling 311 or downloading it from nyc.gov.
Let me stress that there's no reason to believe any kind of catastrophe is about to happen. But emergencies come without warning, and so preparation is crucial - both at the city level, and also at the personal level.
Emergencies also come in all sizes - and a small house fire can be just as dangerous to your family as a much larger, citywide event. So, remember to put new batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. With a little forethought and a few minutes of work, we can endure any emergency that comes our way.