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How to Help Survivors of Hurricane Harvey While Making Smart Choices


  

How to Help Survivors of Hurricane Harvey While Making Smart Choices

Harrisburg, PA – As a tremendous number of people, businesses, and service organizations throughout the country begin collecting and donating goods and services to assist storm survivors in Texas, the Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro want Pennsylvanians to know how they can best help and not hinder rescue and recovery efforts while also protecting themselves.

While donations of goods such as food and clothing are well-intentioned, unsolicited materials can overwhelm organizations that are tasked with helping survivors but are unprepared to store, sort and distribute large quantities of donated goods.

“This storm’s impact will be felt for years to come along the Gulf Coast,” said PEMA Director Richard D. Flinn, Jr. “Many people feel compelled to help those impacted by the storm, but please do so in a way that will truly help storm survivors, while also protecting yourself financially from those who might try to take advantage of your generosity.”

The most useful form of assistance is donations of money. Make check and credit card donations to well-established, charitable organizations that are assisting the flood relief effort. Monetary donations allow charitable organizations the flexibility to purchase items that are needed most, and, unlike material donations, entail no transportation costs.

All three agencies offered the following tips:

  • Do not give to a charity you know nothing about. Call the charity or do some research on your own. Search the name online — with the word “complaints” or “scams.” Check with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do not donate over the phone unless you are familiar with the organization.
  • For door-to-door solicitors, ask to see the person’s identification and consider avoiding them altogether. Do not feel pressured into giving and allowing someone into your house.
  • Do not give credit card numbers, bank account numbers or other personal financial information over the phone. Never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity.
  • Whenever possible, write a check payable to the charity so you have a record of your donation. Or make a donation directly through a legitimate organization’s secure website, rather than a third-party website.
  • Don’t click links in unsolicited emails or on social media. Unless you previously donated to an organization, assume that an unsolicited donation request by email is a scam. Plus, links in emails or social media can unleash malware.

“It is a terrible thing to see the devastation that is occurring in Texas and throughout the Gulf region,” Secretary of State Pedro Cortés said. “As in any time of great need, generous Pennsylvanians are looking for ways they can help. We want to ensure their donations go to reputable organizations with a proven record of good service.”

Charitable organizations that solicit contributions in Pennsylvania must register with the department’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations if their gross annual contributions are more than $25,000. There are some statutory exclusions and exemptions to the registration requirement, for groups such as religious institutions, hospitals, and police, firefighter or veteran organizations.

To determine if a charitable group is properly registered, the public can search the Charities Online Database. The website also provides a list of organizations that have been subject to corrective actions taken by the Bureau. The public may also call 1-800-732-0999.

The Annual Charities Report online contains detailed information about charitable organizations registered in Pennsylvania and professional solicitors and fundraising counsels. For instance, the report outlines what percentage of every donated dollar goes to the charity and how much is charged by the solicitors or counsels for their services.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro noted the importance of protecting yourself while helping others.

“We care deeply about the victims from this terrible storm and want to help any way we can,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “We also want Pennsylvanians to be careful as they donate, and want to help them avoid the scam artists who always surface after natural disasters like this one. Our office is here to help you avoid being scammed.”

More helpful tips about informed giving can be found at the Charities section of the Department of State’s website.

To file a complaint about any charity soliciting donations in the commonwealth, contact the Division of Investigations/Audits at 717-787-0700, by email at ra-stbeiciu@pa.gov, or by mail at 401 North St., Room 212, Harrisburg, PA, 17120,

If you believe you’ve been scammed, call the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 1-800-441-2555 or email at scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

MEDIA CONTACTS:   Ruth A. Miller, PEMA, ruthmiller@pa.gov
Wanda Murren, State, 717-783-1621
Joe Grace, OAG, 717-574-9095

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ReadyPA Monthly July 2017

ReadyPA Monthly July 2017

On July 4th, we celebrate the birth of our nation.  Along with picnics and family get together, fireworks play a large role in our holiday celebrations.   The July ReadyPA Monthly provides information and tips to help you remain safe, both when using fireworks and when around fireworks.

Did you know that July is National Parks and Recreation Month?  Everyone is encouraged to “Get Their Play On” and visit your local and state parks to learn the benefits of parks and recreation areas.  Included is some information on the hazardous plants you may encounter during you visits to the park.

Finally, the ReadyPA Fact sheet for July features important information on remaining safe during lighting.  The fact sheet is included in the newsletter.

This month’s newsletter includes: ReadyPA Monthly July 2017

  • Fireworks Safety
  • Fireworks Safety Tips
  • Fireworks Frequently Asked Questions
  • National Parks and Recreation Month
  • ReadyPA Fact Sheet: Lightning

 

PEMA Provides Tips for Calling 9-1-1, Recognizes 9-1-1 Telecommunicators


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2017

 PEMA Provides Tips for Calling 9-1-1, Recognizes 9-1-1 Telecommunicators

 Harrisburg, PA – The 9-1-1 system in Pennsylvania handles over nine million calls annually from those in need of emergency response from law enforcement, medical, and fire services. PEMA Director Richard D. Flinn Jr. stressed the importance of this vital emergency system, and those who keep it working every day

“The 9-1-1 system in Pennsylvania is usually the first point of contact in emergency situations.” said Flinn.  “We rely on these trained individuals to be prepared and watchful 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The continued safety of our families, our neighbors, and visitors in Pennsylvania depends upon Public Safety Telecommunicators.  These men and women contribute to saving lives every single day in Pennsylvania and are a vital part of the first responder community.”

Because of the open-face design of most mobile phones today, it is common to accidentally place a call to a friend, family member, or even 9-1-1. If you dial 9-1-1 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 9-1-1 when no emergency exists, please do not hang up – that could make public safety telecommunicators think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

In addition, during emergencies and times of high call volume, remain on the line even if it seems as though it’s taking a long time for your call to be answered. Hanging up the phone requires telecommunicators to take extra steps to try to re-establish contact, which can delay assistance. Never call 9-1-1 as a prank or for general information needs as such to report power outages or request weather or roadway reports.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is honoring all telecommunicators who answer 9-1-1 calls in Pennsylvania during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week April 9 – 15.

In 2016, 2,700 telecommunicators in the 69 public safety answering points (PSAPs) in Pennsylvania answered over nine million 9-1-1 calls. National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week provides special recognition to the efforts and contributions of 9-1-1 telecommunicators to public safety.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week was established by the United States Congress in 1991 to recognize emergency telecommunicators as the vital link between the public and emergency responders.

“This week is a time for us to show our appreciation and to recognize that our safety in emergency situations is often dependent on the commitment, courtesy, and professionalism of public safety telecommunicators,” Flinn said.

For more information on 9-1-1 programs in Pennsylvania, including a map showing where Text-to-911 Service is available, visit PEMA online at www.PEMA.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Ruth A. Miller (PEMA), 717-651-2009; ruthmiller@pa.gov

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National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week April 9-15, 2017

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is celebrated every year during the second week of April; the telecommunications personnel in the public safety community, are honored. This week-long event, initially set up in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, is a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. It is a week that should be set aside so everyone can be made aware of their hard work, dedication, and sacrifices made in service of others.

We at Northampton County thank you for all the sacrifices you make to create a better and safer world for the public. Your commitment to your profession is appreciated by all.  Thank you!

Northampton County Emergency Managment switches from Cooper Notification (notifync.org) to the CodeRED Community Notification System

codered

Northampton County Emergency Managment switches from Cooper Notification (notifync.org) to the CodeRED Community Notification System
New high-speed notification solution for time-sensitive messages and alerts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nazareth, PA – [October 31, 2016] – Northampton County Emergency Management is proud to announce the launch of our new CodeRED community notification system to send important alerts and time-sensitive messages to staff members and residents. Along with emergency and critical messages, the CodeRED notification system can also enhance our community engagement via the release of important but non-emergency information. The CodeRED community notification system is provided by the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter Terrorism Task Force to their eight county region.

“Upon evaluating our current notification system and other available options, we chose CodeRED for its innovative features, user-friendly platform, and information security,” said Todd Weaver, Acting Director. “Their company-owned redundant data centers help ensure our data is safe, and that we will be able to send messages to thousands of individuals within minutes.

Registration for this notification service is customized, allowing residents to choose which alerts they’d like to sign up for and how they would prefer to receive them. Residents can choose several different methods: landline, cell phone, email, text message, TTY, or even a combination. These alerts can be specific to streets, neighborhoods, or regions so that residents in affected areas are sure to receive this valuable information.

Additionally, residents and visitors alike can keep track of alerts in our County with the CodeRED Mobile App, which notifies smartphone holders of real-time alerts in the area. Similar to the online registration, users choose which notifications they’d like to receive via the app. Authorized county personnel will have access to the ECN Launcher – an app that allows officials to create and send messages on the go from any smartphone or tablet within seconds, without requiring a computer.

“The mobile technology for CodeRED is extremely advanced, providing us enhanced flexibility to issue general and/or emergency messages,” said Todd Weaver. “We can launch alerts from anywhere at any time, and residents potentially impacted by weather and other time sensitive events will receive them directly to their smartphones. This all happens within seconds, which can make a huge difference in saving lives.”

All residents are encouraged to visit www.ncem-pa.org and click the CodeRED icon at the bottom left of the page to sign up for CodeRED and immediately start receiving these informative, life-saving alerts.

Community Enrollment Flyer

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