Preparedness Tips – New England Hurricane Emergencies
Appalachian Highland Thrust and Lower Atlantic – Having an emergency supply kit is an essential component of personal and family preparedness Emergency kits should include essentials items that will help sustain you and your family for up to three days in the event you are isolated in your home without power during disaster.
First, think about essential items you will need for basic survival: water, food, warmth, clean air, and necessary medications, or medical equipment. Additionally, utilities and basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days or weeks. Your supply kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages. Make sure your emergency kit is customized to meet the unique needs of your family.
At a minimum your kit should include:
- Water: Bottled water (one gallon per person/per day for at least three days), water purification tablets
- Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods that do not need cooking (ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, or juices, protein or granola bars, cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, baby food, comfort foods)
- Tools and Supplies: Manual can opener, Radio (battery-powered or hand crank), flashlight or lantern, extra batteries, cell phone with charger, wrench, pliers, and other basic tools
- Personal Items: Prescription medications (two-week supply), personal hygiene items, eyeglasses, contact lenses, dentures, extra batteries or supplies for medical equipment, change of clothes, sturdy shoes
- Pets: Collar, leash, harness, crate, food, bowls, current photo, license and medical information
- Documents: Insurance policies, bank account records, identification cards (IDs), medical information, and other copies of important documents
- Money: Extra cash and traveler’s checks (ATMs may not work during a power outage)
- Other Items: First-aid kit, emergency whistle, waterproof matches/lighter, local area maps, diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food and supplies (if needed)
Know Your Evacuation Zone
Massachusetts has established hurricane evacuation zones in each of the state’s coastal communities. These zones, designated as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, identify the areas of coastal communities that are at risk for storm surge flooding from tropical storms or hurricanes. If evacuations are necessary because of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane, local or state officials will use the hurricane evacuation zones to call for people living, working or vacationing in these areas to evacuate. It is important to note that even areas not directly along a coastline may be at risk for storm surge flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane. Find out if you live, work or vacation in a hurricane evacuation zone by visiting the ‘Know Your Zone’ interactive map located on MEMA’s website at www.mass.gov/knowyourzone.
New Storm Surge Forecast Products
New for 2017, the National Weather Service will issue storm surge watches and warnings to alert residents of areas that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane.
Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. While most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. These watches and warnings will help local and state officials make better informed evacuation decisions, and will help people who are in harm’s way because they live or work along, or near the coast, better understand their need to evacuate in order to avoid the deadly risks associated with storm surge flooding.
Make an Emergency Plan
It’s important to have plans in case your family needs to take action before or during a storm:
- Communications Plan — Create a family communications plan so you can stay in touch and find each other in an emergency.
- Evacuation Plan — Create a family evacuation plan that details where you will go, how you will get there, what you will bring, and what you will do with your pets.
- Shelter-in-Place Plan — Make sure your family has a plan to shelter in place, which includes stockpiling items you will need to stay comfortable while you are at home. Be prepared to shelter in place for at least 72 hours.
Make sure your emergency plans address the needs of all of your family members, including seniors, children, individuals with medical needs, and people with disabilities.
Have an Emergency Kit
Hurricanes can cause extended power outages, flooding, and blocked roads. You should have an emergency kit to sustain yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case you lose power, are stranded in your home, or nearby stores are closed or damaged. While it is important to customize your kit to meet your family’s unique needs, every emergency kit should include bottled water, food, a flashlight, a radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items, clothing, cash and a charged cell phone. Depending on your family’s needs, emergency kits should also include medications, extra eyeglasses, medical equipment and supplies, children’s items such as diapers and formula, food and supplies for pets and service animals, and other items you or your family members might need during a disaster.
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 2-1-1 — Mass 2-1-1 is the state non-emergency 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.
For more information, visit the Hurricane Safety Tips section of MEMA’s website at http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/emergencies/hurricanes/.