Published On: Thu, Jul 14th, 2016

Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready Before the Storm

This is a guest blog post from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Massachusetts is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes — and the damage they cause. Our last two major storms were Hurricane Bob in 1991 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Although the 2016 hurricane season is not forecast to be above normal, it only takes one storm to create devastating effects — especially if you aren’t prepared when it hits.

Hurricanes and tropical storms can affect the entire state, not just coastal regions, and are most likely to happen in August and September. Find out more about the hazards of hurricanes, and what you can do to make sure your family, your home, and your business are ready before a storm hits.

Know Your (Evacuation) Zone

Do you know if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone? Use MEMA’s interactive hurricane evacuation zone map to find out.

Coastal communities and areas around rivers that connect to the ocean have designated hurricane evacuation zones based on their risk for storm surge and flooding. Before a tropical storm or hurricane hits, local or state officials may ask you to evacuate if you live or work in one of these zones. When you know your zone, you and your family will know when to evacuate .

Make Emergency Plans for Your Family

It’s important to have plans in case your family needs to take action during a storm. There are a few things you should consider:

  • Communications Plan — Create a family communications plan so you can stay in touch and find each other in an emergency.

    • Identify safe meeting places both in and away from your neighborhood.
    • Give each family member a list of important phone numbers.
    • Designate one out-of-state friend or relative as the point person for everyone to call and check in with.
    • Text or use social media to let others know you’re safe if you can’t make a call.
  • Evacuation Plan — Create a family evacuation plan that details:
    • Where you will go
    • How you will get there (methods and routes)
    • What you will bring
    • What you will do with your pets
  • Shelter-in-Place Plan — Make sure your family has a plan to shelter in place, which includes storing items you’ll need to stay comfortable while you’re at home. Read the next section on building an emergency kit for tips.

Make sure your emergency plans are tailored to all of your family members and their needs, including seniors, children, individuals with medical needs, and people with disabilities.

Build an Emergency Kit

Hurricanes can cause extended power outages, flooding, and blocked roads. You should build an emergency kit  in case you lose power or can’t go to a store. Make sure your kit includes:

  • Bottled water
  • Shelf-stable food
  • Flashlights
  • A radio and extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit and sanitation items
  • Important documents and records
  • Clothing

Depending on the needs of your family, you may need to add:

  • Medication and medical supplies
  • Pet food and pet items

Use this printer-friendly emergency kit checklist for more ideas.

Stay Informed

As a storm approaches, monitor media reports and follow instructions from public safety officials with these tools:

  • Massachusetts Alerts App — Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app for your iOS or Android device. The app provides tropical storm and hurricane warnings, as well as important public safety alerts and information, from MEMA.
  • Social Media — Follow MEMA on Twitter (@MassEMA) and Facebook for emergency updates during hurricanes.
  • Mass 2-1-1Mass 2-1-1 is the state nonemergency call center for disasters. Call 2-1-1 to find out about shelter locations, travel restrictions, disaster assistance programs, and more. Mass 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.
  • Local Emergency Notification Systems — Check with your local emergency management director to see if your community uses an emergency notification system and how to sign up.

Preparing for a tropical storm or hurricane takes time and effort, but it will be worth it if a storm hits Massachusetts. Share these tips to help friends and family prepare during hurricane season.

Questions about how to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies? Comment below or tweet @MassEMA.

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