As we enter the Hurricane Season, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is offering personal preparedness tips for the all of the citizens of the Commonwealth in three key areas:
Build an Emergency Kit
Every home and business should have a stocked basic Emergency Kit that could be used for any emergency, regardless of the time of year. Everyone should keep certain items around the house and workplace in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power or unable to go to a store. While some items, such as bottled water, food, flashlight, radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items and clothing should be in everyone’s kit, it is important to customize the kit for the needs of you and your family. Consider adding medications, extra eyeglasses, contact lenses, dentures, extra batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairs, or other medical equipment, oxygen tanks, children’s items, food & supplies for pets and service animals and any other items your family might need. A list of allergies, medications and dosages, medical insurance information, medical records and serial numbers of medical devices will provide additional information during an emergency. For full suggested list and to view a printer friendly version of the checklist, see our Emergency Kit webpage.
Create a Family Emergency Communications Plan
Develop a Family Emergency Communications Plan in case family members are separated from one another during an emergency (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school, camp or at a friend’s house). This plan should also address reunification after the immediate crisis passes.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person. During and immediately after a disaster occurs, it is often easier to access a long distance telephone number than a local one. Also, calling outside a disaster area is usually easier than calling into the same area. Text messages and the internet often have the ability to work in the event of phone service disruption or congestion.
- Keep a list of important contact phone numbers (particularly if your cell phone is lost or dead). Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person. Children should know their parent/ caregiver’s full name, home address, and an emergency contact number.
- Create a personal support network and a list of contacts that include caregivers, friends, family, neighbors, service/ care providers, and others who might be able to assist during an emergency.
- Designate two meeting areas for family members – one within your community (your primary location), and one outside of your community (your alternate location). Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of the community, so a second location outside of your community would be more accessible to all family members.
- Know the emergency plans of locations where your family might be (work, school, daycare) to understand what might happen during an emergency.
A Family Emergency Communications Plan can help reassure everyone’s safety and minimize the stress associated with emergencies.
Know what potential risks your community and neighborhood are susceptible to in a hurricane, such as storm surge, flooding, road or bridge closures, etc. Learn how local authorities will warn you of a pending or current disaster situation and how they will provide information to you before, during and after a disaster. Remember that if their plan is not perfect then your personal plan will need to fill those gaps. Carefully monitor the media and promptly follow instructions from public safety officials as a storm approaches. Be aware of severe weather warnings and watches, which can be obtained from media sources, the National Weather Service, a NOAA all-hazards radio, and you can Get Emergency Information on Your Cellphone . In addition, sign up for your community’s emergency alerting system to get local information.
2-1-1 is the Commonwealth’s primary telephone call center during times of an emergency and is able to provide information on emergency resources. This system is free to the public, available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week, confidential, multilingual, and TTY compatible. Consider all the ways you might get information during an incident (radio, TV, internet, cell phone, landline, etc) in case one or more of those systems stops working.