FRAMINGHAM — Governor Charlie Baker has proclaimed September 2018 to be Emergency Preparedness Month to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness and to encourage planning for disasters and other types of emergencies. To help individuals and families prepare during Emergency Preparedness Month, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is promoting four key preparedness messages: 1) Be Informed and Receive Emergency Alerts, 2) Plan for Emergencies and Disasters, 3) Build an Emergency Kit, and 4) Get Involvedin community preparedness and resilience.  MEMA will also stress the importance of considering the unique preparedness needs of children, pets, seniors and people with access and functional needs.

Last week MEMA promoted being informed and knowing how to receive emergency alerts and information.  This week, MEMA is urging individuals and families to plan ahead for emergencies and disasters, including developing a Family Emergency Plan.

“A Family Emergency Plan will help you prepare for the next disaster, including being ready to evacuate or shelter-in-place and find and communicate with family members during an emergency or disaster,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Planning also includes checking and updating insurance coverage and having a disaster financial plan, both of which will help mitigate the impacts of the next disaster.”

When an emergency or disaster occurs, will you be ready? It is critical that you create a family disaster plan to keep you and your family safe, protect your property, and build your community’s resilience.

Establish Meeting Locations

Select two family meeting locations where your family can reunite after a disaster, one close to home and another farther away, in case you are asked to evacuate or can’t return to the area.

Develop an Emergency Contact Plan

  • Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as your family’s emergency contact. After a disaster, it is sometimes easier to call long distance to unaffected areas.
    • Provide every family member with the name, address, and phone number of the emergency contact and make sure each family member has a cellphone or a prepaid phone card.
    • Inform your emergency contact of any family member’s special needs or medical issues.
  • List emergency contacts in cellphones as “ICE” (in case of emergency), which will make it easier for emergency management personnel to contact the right person in case of an emergency responder needs to make a call on your behalf.
  • Identify alternate communications methods:
    • Show all family members how to text message, as it may be easier to send a text than make a call during an emergency.
    • Learn how to use social media, which can be an effective tool to let friends and family know your location and status.

Plan How to Evacuate

  • Identify and practice how you will exit your home.
  • Establish possible evacuation routes to ensure you are able to get to your designated meeting location(s).
  • Identify available modes of transportation.
  • Make arrangements with family, neighbors, friends, or local government if you don’t have personal transportation.
  • If you need assistance, contact your local public safety official to make them aware of your needs.
  • Review tips to safely evacuate.

Plan How to Shelter in Place

  • Designate safe room(s) within your home. They should have:
    • as few windows or doors as possible; and
    • access to television, radio, and telephones.
  • Make sure you have necessary supplies and can access your emergency kit.
  • If you receive medical treatments or home health care services, work with your medical provider to determine how to maintain care and service if you are unable to leave your home for a period of time.
  • Review tips to safely shelter in place.

Consider Everyone’s Needs

  • Plan for everyone in your household, including individuals with access and functional needs, seniors, children, and pets.
  • If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional need, you may need to take additional steps to prepare yourself and your family.
  • Pets are important members of many households, and like people, they are affected by disasters. Include your pets and animals in your emergency plans.

Protect your Property with Insurance

Property insurance provides financial protection in case you have losses from an emergency or disaster.

  • Review your insurance policies to see if you have adequate coverage. If you’re not sure you have enough coverage, talk to your agent or company.
  • Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner’s insurance, so consider purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP). Flood insurance is available whether or not your building is in an identified flood-prone area, and can be purchased through insurance agents in most communities. Plan ahead – – there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance takes effect.
  • Inventory the contents of your home, including videoing or photographing each room in your house.  Make multiple copies of the inventory, and store at least one copy in a location other than your home.
  • Keep insurance policies, your household inventory and other important papers together in a safe and secure place. Consider sending copies of these documents to a trusted friend or family member living outside your area.

Prepare your Finances for an Emergency

In a disaster, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Take the time now to collect and secure these critical records and prepare your finances:

  • Gather financial and critical personal, household, and medical information.
  • Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have cash, including bills in small denominations on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase supplies, fuel or food.
  • Download the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) to get started planning today.
  • Learn more about how to prepare your finances: https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness