Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preparing for an Emergency

As Hurricane Sandy comes closer to the Eastern Seaboard with an expected landfall sometime during Monday evening, my office has gathered several documents and emergency contact numbers that may be of assistance. The best way to protect yourself, loved ones and your property is to plan for an emergency before one strikes. 

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 include;

• Bringing in all lawn furniture, decorations, and other objects that can be projected through the air that could cause harm to property and personal safety.

• Properly anchor all storage sheds to the ground and lock all doors to prevent contents from damage.

• Locking all doors and windows to ensure that they are closed tight to help protect against strong winds and rain.

• Learning where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.

• Keeping an amount of money on hand just in case there is a power outage and ATM’s are unable to operate.

• Elevating property in basement that might be susceptible to minor flooding.

• Clearing clogged rain gutters to prevent property from flooding.

• Knowing your community’s emergency shelter locations if an evacuation becomes necessary.

• Having 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. If my office can assist you in anyway, please do not hesitate to call at (617)722-1600.

Disaster Preparedness Kit Checklist

Family Communications Plan

MEMA Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

MEMA Business Owners Guide

National Grid Helpful Tips

People With Disabilties Requiring Additional Assistance

National Weather Radio Station Listings for Massachusetts