Webfinder: Disasters

Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Are you ready? If not, check out these resources!

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Disaster Supplies Kit [Link opens a PDF] – A handy printable checklist of essential items you should have in your home in case of any emergency, plus key websites to help you stay informed about current or potential emergencies. (State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management)

Disasters: Prepare Your Home & Family – General advice on how to prepare for natural disasters or other emergencies, including tips for taking care of children, people with disabilities, seniors, and pets. Disaster Preparedness focuses on specific types of emergencies, including chemical spills, fires, floods, flu, heat waves, poisoning, power outages, terrorism, winter storms, and more. After a Disaster offers guidance on what to do after floods, hurricanes, winter storms blackouts, and other disasters, including checking your home’s structure, utilities & major systems, and recovering financially (American Red Cross). See also Emergency Preparedness & Response (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) and Protect Yourself from Dangerous Weather (USA.gov).

Emotional Recovery from Disaster – Briefly outlines common reactions and responses to disaster, and offers advice on coping. (2013, American Psychological Association). See also Helping Children Cope With a Disaster and Parents Helping Youth Cope with Disaster [Link opens a PDF] (2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control). SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support, by phone or text, to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. There is also a special service for hard of hearing & deaf people, and an interpretation service that connects callers with counselors in more than 150 languages (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Family Communication Plan  [Link opens a PDF] – A printable form you can fill out so your family will know how to get in touch with each other in the event of an emergency. Fill in this information and keep a copy in a safe place, such as your purse or briefcase, your car, your office, and your disaster kit. (FEMA)

Financial Preparedness: Lessons from Sandy – Recommends steps to take before disaster hits to be sure your financial accounts, medical & prescription drug information, original copies of important documents (birth certificates, wills, etc.) and other necessities are secured and accessible to you in the event of an emergency (2012, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse). Smart About Money: Natural Disasters [Link opens a PDF] includes information on filing insurance claims, applying for private or government assistance, tax relief, and related topics (2015, National Endowment for Financial Education, American Red Cross and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; non-profit organizations). See also Weather Emergencies: Getting your Financial House in Order (2015, Federal Trade Commission) and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit [NEW!] [Link opens a PDF] (2015, FEMA).

Flooding – How to prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from floods, including dealing with emergency disinfection of drinking water, mold, private wells & septic systems, and related subjects (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). See also Family Preparedness: Floods and Flash Floods (New Jersey Office of Emergency Management) and Floods: What You Should Know (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). FloodSmart explains the National Flood Insurance Program and your flood insurance coverage options (FEMA). The short video Flooded Cars offers tips on how to identify a flood-damaged vehicle when you shop for a car (Insurance Information Institute, Inc.).

Food Safety in an Emergency – Answers to frequently asked questions about food safety after a flood or other disaster, including a helpful  “When to Save and When to Throw It Out” chart (USDA). See also FoodSafety.gov.

Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities – People with disabilities often need additional time and assistance to prepare for a disaster. This page provides some quick, practical advice, with links to more in-depth information and guidance, including Register Ready, a free and confidential program which allows residents with special needs to register with emergency response agencies, so emergency responders can better serve them in an emergency (New Jersey Office of Emergency Management). The Red Cross offers a free booklet you can download and print, Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs (American Red Cross, Department of Homeland Security and FEMA).

Preparedness for Seniors – Tips for over-50 adults and their families / caregivers (The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc). See also Disaster Planning For Seniors, By Seniors [Link opens a PDF] (American Red Cross), and Safety Tips for Seniors and related links.

Planning for Pets – Pets can’t prepare, so you need to do it for them! This guide explains what you can do ahead of time to ensure your pets’ safety in times of emergency (Humane Society of the United States). See also Preparing your Pets for Emergencies [Link opens a PDF] (FEMA et al.), Saving the Whole Family® [Link opens a PDF] (American Veterinary Medical Association) and Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist [Link opens a PDF] (American Red Cross).

Power Outages – Tips to help you prepare for and cope with sudden loss of power, including food & water safety, and dealing with extreme heat and cold. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

Protect Your Home in a FLASH – DIY Videos showing steps you can take to strengthen your home and safeguard your family from natural and manmade disasters; videos are hosted on YouTube. See Flash FAQ for additional resources.

Safe & Well List If you have been affected by a disaster, this site provides a way for you to register yourself as ‘safe and well.’ If you are concerned about loved ones in a disaster area, you can search the list of those who have registered themselves as ‘safe and well.’ For help contacting family members during or after an international crisis (war, disaster, migration or other humanitarian emergency), see Find Family Internationally After Crisis (American Red Cross), Restoring Family Links (International Committee of the Red Cross), and Google Person Finder [NEW!].

Save Your Treasures [UPDATED LINK!] – Basic guidelines for saving family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes that have been damaged by water (Heritage Preservation and FEMA).

Winter Weather – Advice on protecting your health and safety in winter, including what to do if you get stranded on the road (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). See also Winter Weather Safety (National Weather Service). Winter Driving offers vehicle maintenance & driving tips and outlines laws that help keep you safe on the road in winter (State of New Jersey). See also Car Talk: Winter Driving (NPR; site includes advertisements) and AAA Winter Driving Tips. To test your knowledge about driving safely in a variety of extreme weather conditions, see the Weather Channel’s Extreme Weather Driving Quiz!

Workplace Disasters – Resources to help you prepare your business or organization for disasters, or recover from one.

If you are struck by a natural disaster, DisasterAssistance.gov is the official U.S. government website that provides information and services to access and apply for disaster assistance. For additional information, see Benefit.gov’s Guide to Disaster Preparedness and Relief Benefits.

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Links updated 5/30/17.

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Webfinder: Green Living

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10 FREE Ways to Go Green provides practical green tips that can easily be introduced into your daily routine (Earth 911; site includes advertisements).

Ask Umbra provides answers to frequently asked questions such as: paper or plastic? cloth or disposable diapers? handwash dishes or use the dishwasher? buy organic food from far away, or non-organic food grown locally? and other common green dilemmas. Plus more helpful advice for living green. (Grist Magazine)

EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator helps you estimate your household’s greenhouse gas emissions, then suggests actions you can take to lower your emissions while reducing your energy and waste disposal costs. You’ll find links to related resources at Greener Living page. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

EWG’s Healthy Home Tips are aimed at helping you create a cleaner and greener home that is good for your family and the planet. Printable PDFs cover topics such as personal care products & household cleaners, organic & fresh foods, plastics, tap water, healthy pregnancy, school lunches and more. (Environmental Working Group)

Green American shows you more ways to live better, save more, invest wisely, and make a difference (Green America).

Green Home Guide offers lots of practical advice on greening your home and yard. (U.S. Green Building Council)

Living Green [NEW!] offers practical advice to help you prevent pollution, build healthier communities, and live a more sustainable life (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; some information & resource links are specific to Minnesota).

Metro: Sustainable Living includes good advice on green cleaners, waste prevention, natural gardening, home improvement, and more (Metro Regional Government, Portland, OR; some information & resource links are specific to the Portland region).

Solutions for Your Life: Sustainable Living is an extensive library of links to information about living sustainably, covering energy consumption, families & consumers, lawn & garden care, and more (University of Florida Extension).

Living Green isn’t out of Renters’ Reach suggests low-cost ways for apartment dwellers to be eco-friendly. (2010, Los Angeles Times / Washington Post; site includes advertisements).

And be sure to check out our other Green Living and Energy Conservation Webfinders!

Links updated April 2017.

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Webfinder : Green Lawn & Garden

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Bug Review offers descriptions of some common home & garden insect pests, with photographs, habits, potential damage, and non-chemical control recommendations (University of Illinois). Pest Management in Homes, Gardens, Landscapes, and Turf includes guidelines for monitoring pests, and non-pesticide alternatives for managing pests – including birds, mammals, reptiles, deer, gophers, raccoons, etc. (University of California; some information is specific to California).

Composting for Kids [Link opens a PDF] has good basic instruction in the whys and hows of composting, for kids or adult beginners (Texas Agricultural Extension Service). See also Composting for the Homeowner (University of Illinois Extension) and Grasscycling and Composting Yard Waste (California Integrated Waste Management Board). The Middlesex County Division of Solid Waste Management sells compost bins to Middlesex County residents at a reduced price.

Garden for Wildlife shows how you can landscape your yard to attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife (National Wildlife Federation). The Coevolution Institute offers free eco-regional Pollinator Planting Guides to help you make your yard more friendly to birds, bees, butterflies, bats, beetles and other pollinators (non-profit organization). The Butterfly Site has helpful tips and links specifically for attracting butterflies to your garden (site includes advertisements).

Gardening How-Tos is a large collection of helpful articles on gardening techniques and garden design, including Sustainable Gardening, Native Flora, Growing Food, Pollinators & Birds, and Composting (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens).

Greenscaping [Link opens a PDF] explains how you can save time & money and protect the environment by changing your landscape to a GreenScape (2006, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Less Lawn also provides information and inspiration to help you create a more beautiful, low-maintenance, organic, and wildlife-friendly landscape (by author Evelyn J. Hadden). Landscape For Life “shows you how to work with nature in your garden, no matter where you live, whether you garden on a city or suburban lot, a 20–acre farm, or the common area of your condominium” (United States Botanic Garden Conservatory). See also Lawn Pesticide Fact Sheets & Safer Lawn Care (Beyond Pesticides coalition), Rain Gardens (Rutgers), and NJ Fertilizer Law: Answers for Homeowners (Rutgers)

Invasive Plants offers photos, videos, and information to help you identify invasive species in your lawn or garden, with links to additional resources. Also offers similar information on invasive animal and insect pests (USDA).

Tree Planting [Link opens a PDF] – Explains the basics of choosing, planting, and maintaining trees on your property (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service). The SelecTree database will search for specific tree species to match the type of site and desired tree characteristics you specify (Cal Poly State University). And don’t forget to Call Before You Dig!

Water Conservation for Lawn & Landscape [NEW!] – Extensive information on water-conserving landscape design, suitable plant materials, mulch, irrigation, and related topics. (eXtension.org, a partnership of 74 universities in the U.S.)

Links updated April 2017.

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Webfinder: Green Shopping

Buy Recycled Products provides links to online stores and companies that sell clothing, paper, building materials, home furnishings, and other products made with recycled content (N.J. Department of Environmental Protection). See also Recycling NJ: Buy Recycled.

Climate Counts can tell you whether your favorite company is taking steps to prevent global warming (non-profit organization).

EPA’s Sustainable Marketplace [NEW!] aims at helping you choose safer, more environmentally-friendly, and often less costly products & services. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

EWG’s Skin Deep is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products, launched in 2004 to help people find safer products, with fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested. EWG also has similar guides for Household Cleaners, Food, and other products (Environmental Working Group)

Good Stuff is a ‘Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy’ with tips and facts you can use to start making more informed purchases that benefit your health and the environment. NOTE: Published in 2004, so some material may be outdated. (Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization)

Green America’s Responsible Shopper helps you ‘go green’ when buying a wide range of products & services. (Non-profit membership organization)

Sins of Greenwashing teaches you how to spot false or misleading environmental claims on product labels and in advertisements (TerraChoice Group Inc., part of the Underwriters Laboratories). The Federal Trade Commission explains standards for Green Advertising Claims which are enforced by the FTC, and has additional useful information on Green Products.

ELECTRONICS: EPEAT® [NEW!] is a searchable database of greener electronics. “EPEAT®-registered products meet strict environmental criteria that address the full product lifecycle, from energy conservation and toxic materials to product longevity and end-of-life management. EPEAT-registered products offer a reduced environmental impact across their lifecycles.” (Green Electronics Council).

FOOD: To find Places where you can buy or eat locally-grown food, use the Eat Well Guide [enter town & state, NOT zip code] or Local Harvest [results are NOT arranged by distance!] websites. To find farmers’ markets, see the National Farmers Market Directory [NEW!] Click on the Eat Local map to find out what’s in season in your state at different times of the year (Natural Resources Defense Council). How to Read Meat and Dairy Labels defines common label terms such as Certified Organic; Free-Range, Pasture-Raised or Grass-Fed; Certified Humane; Hormone-Free, rBGH-Free, rBST-Free, or No Hormones Added; Dolphin-Safe; Natural; Grain-Fed; and similar terms (Humane Society of the United States). See also What is Organic? [UPDATED LINK! Link opens a PDF] and Organic Labeling [NEW!] (USDA). To find information about sustainable fish & seafood, see Seafood Watch (Monterey Bay Aquarium) or EDF Seafood Selector (Environmental Defense Fund).

GIFTS: So Kind Alternative Gift Registry makes it easier to give and receive non-material, homemade, second-hand, and environmentally-friendly gifts (Center for a New American Dream).

Shopping for Light Bulbs explains the different types of light bulbs now available, and how you can choose the most efficient bulbs that meet your lighting needs.

Links updated April 2017.

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Webfinder : Recycling

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Recycling in South Plainfield provides information for local residents on drop-off and curbside pickup, including yard waste, textiles, motor oil, paint, tires, electronics and more. See also Middlesex County Recycling. The South Plainfield Public Library accepts empty ink and toner cartridges from computer printers or copiers. Our Where to Donate Goods page offers information on local, regional, and national organizations that can make good use of your used goods!

Recycling NJ and Earth 911 and Recycle Nation have lots of useful information on WHAT can & cannot be recycled (including The Great Pizza Box Recycling Mystery!), and on WHERE to recycle what. See also 20 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle (Green America). The Recycling Materials Index is an alphabetical list of product recycling information (N.J. Department of Environmental Protection). Close the loop by buying products with recycled content! See Recycling NJ: Buy Recycled and Recycled Products: The Smart Choice. For basic advice to help you figure out whether a product or package is recyclable, see The Language of Recycling.

Reduce, Reuse, Prevent [UPDATED LINK!] offers tips on reducing all kinds of waste: ‘When you avoid making garbage in the first place, you don’t have to worry about disposing of waste or recycling it later.’ Formerly Reduce.org (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency). Source Reduction [UPDATED LINK!] provides advice and links on reducing yard waste, junk mail, disposables, holiday waste, and more (N.J. Department of Environmental Protection).

E-Cycling Central & related links gives you additional info about where and how to recycle electronic products.

LampRecycle.org tells you where you can recycle Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs). See also Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs), which includes info on how to handle broken bulbs safely  (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Proper Disposal of Medicines links explain where and how to get rid of old medications safely.

Links updated April 2017.

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Webfinder: Spring Cleaning

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STEP 1: Clear out the clutter! – The University of Illinois Extension Service offers practical advice on sorting, organizing, storing, and getting rid of stuff. You’ll find more clutter-busting tips at Live Simple: Rule Your Stuff and Surprising Strategies for Finally Organizing Your Space.

STEP 2: Where to Donate Goods – If you’re doing spring cleaning, you may find things to get rid of that are too good for the trash. What to do with them? Our ‘Where to Donate Goods’ page can help!

STEP 3: Resell that stuff! – Thinking about having a yard sale to get rid of some of that extra stuff? Download the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Reseller’s Guide to screen for hazardous products that should go in the trash instead!

STEP 4: Safeguard your Personal Data – Getting rid of old financial/legal documents, as well as old electronics that may contain sensitive information, can be an important STEP of de-cluttering. But it can also pose a risk to your personal data. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers practical advice on how to do it safely! A Pack Rat’s Guide to Shredding includes a printable graphic you can keep near your shredder as a handy guide (2015, Federal Trade Commission).

STEP 5: Recycle! – After you’ve removed all your personal data from unwanted electronic items, what are you going to do with them? If they’re too old or aren’t working, you can e-cycle them! The South Plainfield Consumer Electronics Recycling Drop-off Program accepts televisions, computers and peripherals at the Recycling Center from residents. Included in this program are: computers (desktop and laptop), monitors, televisions, cell phones, copiers, digital cameras, DVD players, e-book readers, fax machines, keyboards, MP3 players, modems, mouses, personal digital assistants (PDAs), printers, scanners, stereo and radio equipment, telephones, VCRs, and any products that contain rechargeable batteries. Click here for more recycling links.

STEP 6: Safe Disposal of Old Medicine – Did you find unneeded and/or expired medicines in your medicine cabinet? It’s NOT a good idea to put them in the trash or flush them down the toilet! Instead, follow these instructions for safe disposal: NJ Project Medicine Drop and FDA Consumer Update: How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.

STEP 7: Appraise Old Paintings, Antiques, & Collectibles – Did you find any old paintings, antique objects, or possible collectibles while you were clearing out the attic? Want to find out more about them? The Smithsonian American Art Museum offer some tips and resources to help you. See also PBS’s Antiques Road Show.

STEP 8: Clear Out the Fridge – Kitchen shelves full of old cans? Old food in your fridge/freezer? How do you know what to keep and what to toss? FoodSafety.gov has advice for you. Here are some helpful guides you can print out to keep handy: FDA 1-page Food Storage Chart [PDF], NDSU Food Storage Guide with Chart [PDF], OhioLine Pantry Food Storage Guide with Chart.

STEP 9: *THE REALLY ICKY STUFF* – The U.S. EPA provides extensive help on dealing with Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. More icky stuff? Here’s some information on Bedbugs and Other pests.

STEP 10: Let the (Green) Cleaning Begin – Once the clutter’s finally gone (well… reduced?) it’s time to start cleaning! Oregon Metro offers these tips for eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning. See also: Rodale’s 8 Must-Haves for a Nontoxic Cleaning Kit and Rodale’s Spring Clean your Kitchen. For information on cleaning products, see Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning [NEW!] and EPA Safer Choice [NEW!].

STEP 11: Stain Solutions – For tougher cleaning problems, the University of Illinois Extension has lots of good advice! The FabricLink Fabric Care Center offers stain removal guides, laundry tips, information about fabric labels & laundry products, and related resources.

STEP 12: Caring for your Treasures [UPDATED LINK!] – Heritage Preservation has a wealth of information on caring for family heirlooms, keepsakes, and other heritage objects. See also : CCI Caring for Objects and ICON Caring for your Collection.

STEP 13: Don’t Forget those Electronics! – This 2013 piece from Lifehacker gives you the 411 on how to clean up your computer and electronic gadgets.

Revised April 2017

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Webfinder : Home Energy Conservation – Heating

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Burn Wise – Information to help you choose EPA-certified wood-burning appliances (wood stove, pellet stove, hydronic heaters, fireplaces, and related products), and use them efficiently and safely (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Consumer Guide to Home Heating – Advice on deciding whether to replace your existing system, finding a good contractor, selecting a new system, improving your system’s performance, and more. (ACEEE, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

Consumer Information: Saving Energy at Home [NEW!] – Practical tips from the FTC on saving energy and money in your home. (Federal Trade Commission)

Energy.gov: Home Heating – Tips on saving money & energy on home heating. See also Home Heating Systems and Heat & Cool Efficiently. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Energy Terminology – Wondering what the difference is between ‘U-Value’ and ‘R-Value’, or find out about different types of insulation? This site defines dozens of terms and abbreviations related to heating & cooling, insulation, window efficiency, water heating, and lighting technology (U.S. Department of Energy).

Heat Pumps – Heat pumps can be a cost-effective alternative for heating and cooling your home. This site explains how to choose a heat pump to meet your needs. [NOTE: Some details on financing and installation are specific to Tennesee.] (Tennessee Valley Authority). The U.S. Department of Energy offers additional information on Air Source Heat Pumps and Geothermal Heat Pumps.

NJ Rebates & Incentives, Energy Assistance and Related Programs [UPDATED LINK!] (NJCEP) and NJ Homeowner Incentives for Clean Energy (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) – Information about available financing, rebates, and other incentives for energy-efficient home improvements.

Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR – Instructions on installing weatherstripping on doors & caulking around windows, sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and other home energy conservation projects (U.S. DOE/EPA). See also Residential Insulation (Industry association : North American Insulation Manufacturers Association).

Additional resources from USA.gov on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Tax Incentives, and more.

Links updated November 2016.

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