Friday, January 3, 2014

Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home

With a powerful winter storm providing extreme conditions to Massachusetts tonight and tomorrow, my office has gathered several documents and emergency contact numbers that may be of assistance.  During a storm with the potential of this magnitude, people may become stranded in their vehicles or unable to leave their homes with the loss of utilities and other services.  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.

Other important precautions to take before a storm include;

• Stocking your house and/or vehicle with supplies such as non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid kit, extra blankets and sleeping bags, a fire extinguisher, and a radio.

• Installing storm windows or cover windows with plastic to provide additional insulation.

• Letting faucets drip to avoid water pipes from freezing.

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

• 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.

• 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 assist you. The documents include a family communications plan, a winter emergency car kit checklist, 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.