September is Emergency Preparedness Month
BERKLEY — Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Scott Fournier would like to offer residents tips about making an emergency plan and kit to prepare your family for any emergency during Emergency Preparedness Month.
September has been declared by Gov. Charlie Baker to be Emergency Preparedness Month. Residents are encouraged to use resources provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to prepare themselves, their family, their property and their community for an emergency or natural disaster.
“Planning and preparing ahead of an emergency or natural disaster is an imperative, but often overlooked aspect of emergency response,” Chief Fournier said. “Those who plan prior to an emergency often see a difference in their situational outcome, as they have the means readily available to respond should an unexpected crisis occur.”
Emergency plans and kits should include everyone in your household including individuals with access and functional needs, seniors, children, infants and pets. Consider any additional supplies needed for basic survival and familiarizing yourself with the emergency plans that are in place at your workplace, children’s school or daycare or other places where your family spends time.
When creating family emergency plans and kits, residents should take into consideration the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Residents should add items such as face coverings/masks, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to their emergency kits. Residents should also identify emergency contacts who aren’t immunocompromised and meeting locations where families can maintain adequate physical distance from one another.
MEMA offers several tips to make an emergency plan for your family:
Establish Meeting Locations and Emergency Contact Plans
- Select two family meeting locations where your family can reunite after a disaster. Choose one close to home and one farther away in case you are asked to evacuate or cannot return to the area.
- Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as your family’s emergency contact. After a disaster, it may be 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.
- Identify alternative communication methods: texting or social media can also be effective tools to let friends and family know your location and status during an emergency.
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 or friends if you don’t have personal transportation.
- Your evacuation plan should include pets. Since you will not know how long you will be gone, you must take your pets and all necessary pet supplies with you.
- 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 or cell service.
- 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.
Practice Your Plan
- Practice your emergency plan at least two to three times per year with all members of your family.
- To practice your plan, test your emergency communications plan, assemble at your meeting locations and practice your evacuation routes. Update your plan with any changes, if necessary, after you practice.
Also, as a part of Emergency Preparedness Month Berkley Fire Rescue encourages families to build an emergency kit. MEMA recommends that emergency kits include essential items that will provide your family members with basic necessities for up to three days in an emergency event.
Essential Items to Include in an Emergency Kit:
- 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 or vegetables, or juices, protein or granola bars, cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, baby food and comfort foods)
- Tools and Supplies: Manual can opener, radio (powered by battery 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
- 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, sleeping bags or blankets, comfort items such as books or games
- Also consider: A watch or clock, disposable kitchenware, duct tape, plastic sheeting or tarp to protect against the elements
MEMA also offers an Emergency Kit Checklist to assist families in building a kit of their own.