Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home

There’s a major Nor’easter approaching and my office has gathered several documents and emergency contact numbers that may be of assistance. The best way to combat an emergency is to plan before one strikes to minimize the threat of danger to health and property.

All households should have a contact list of emergency numbers posted next to a working phone. In case of a power outage, most cordless phones may be unresponsive so it is advisable to keep a backup phone with a cord in a close and safe place. While emergency calls should be directed through 911 it is a good idea to keep other numbers in an accessible location. Some numbers to be placed on that list include your local non-emergency numbers for the police and fire departments, nearest hospital, town hall, and your electricity and gas provider’s area telephone number. National Grid’s emergency number is 1-800-465-1212. Comcast can be reached at 1-800-266-2278 and Verizon’s help service line is 1-888-553-1555.

Marine related emergencies may require contacting the U.S. Coast Guard. The best number to contact Coast Guard Station Gloucester is (978) 283-0705 and Station Merrimac River is (978) 462-3428. You can also call Sector Boston’s emergency line at (617) 223-5750. Boaters on the water and in need of immediate assistance can radio through a “Mayday” distress message. It is best to either use MF 2182 kHz or marine VHF-FM radio channel 16 (156.8 MHz) because these channels have been designated for emergencies and are closely monitored by the Coast Guard.

Other important precautions to take before a storm are;

• Learn where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.
• Keep an amount of money on hand just in case there is a power outage and ATM’s are unable to operate.
• Know your community’s emergency shelter locations if an evacuation becomes necessary.
• Have a plan for all family pets in case an emergency shelter does not allow their presence.

Below are several documents produced from several state and federal agencies that might be of help to you. The documents include a family communications plan, a disaster preparedness kit checklist, the National Weather Radio stations listings in Massachusetts, tips for people with disabilities requiring additional assistance, tips for business owners, and a family pet disaster preparedness plan.

Disaster Preparedness Kit Checklist

Family Communications Plan

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

National Grid Helpful Tips

National Weather Radio Station Listings for Massachusetts