September is Emergency Preparedness Month
WHITMAN — In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Timothy Grenno would like to provide Whitman residents with information and tips to assist them in recovering and moving forward.
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.
Emergencies and disasters can occur at any time and they often disrupt individual’s homes, communities and their health. Recovering after an emergency or disaster can be a long and gradual process. The process may include locating family and friends, temporary housing and emergency food as well as informing people you know that you are safe and replacing vital documents.
“In the wake of an emergency or natural disaster, it’s important for residents to be able to seek out and locate resources that are available to them as they recover,” Chief Grenno said. “We urge everyone to review the below tips, as they are sure to provide insight in the unfortunate event that an emergency ever arise.”
The Whitman Fire Department encourages residents to follow these tips during the aftermath of an emergency, provided by USA.gov:
Notifying Family and Friends After A Disaster:
- After a disaster, residents should register with the American Red Cross Safe and Well system so family and friends can find them.
- Residents searching for missing family members should use FEMA’s emergency family locator system that helps people connect during presidentially-declared disasters. To use this locator residents should call 1-800-588-9822 when it has been activated.
- If residents are searching for or caring for a lost child after a disaster, they should call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). This is the hotline for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
- Get help locating a missing person by using the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS).
Locating Housing and Emergency Food:
- To find a shelter after an emergency or natural disaster in your area text SHELTER and the zip code of your location to 4FEMA (43362)
- Find open shelters using the FEMA Mobile App
- Search DisasterAssistance.gov for open shelters and disaster recovery centers
- Learn more about housing and other assistance after a disaster and how to apply
- To locate emergency food or water after an emergency find an open emergency shelter near you, listen to local radio or TV to locate disaster feeding sites and check with local agencies for food assistance
- Residents are advised not to return to their property until local officials have declared that the area is safe.
- Prior to entering their homes, residents should check for safety hazards such as loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. Residents can learn what else to check around their home and yard after a disaster here.
- Residents should identify items that require special disposal and who they should contact to dispose of them properly as they begin clean-up.
- Residents should familiarize themselves with tips for how to safely clean up their home to prevent injury and illness.
Replacing Lost/Destroyed Documents:
- U.S. Birth Certificate: To replace a birth certificate residents should find the vital records office in the state they were born in to see if they can receive a certified copy of their birth certificate with no identification.
- Driver’s License: If residents can’t receive a copy of their birth certificate first, they should replace their driver’s license. Residents should check with their state for its procedures.
- Social Security Card: Residents should first find out if they need a replacement card, oftentimes residents just need to know their number and not show their card. If residents do need a social security card they should follow these steps to replace it.
- Other Important Documents: To learn more about replacing other vital documents residents should visit here.
Those interested in assisting affected communities during the aftermath of an emergency or natural disaster can do the following if they are able to:
- Donate online to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
- Donate needed goods to a local organization or food bank
- Volunteer with local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) or other agencies such as the Citizen Corps Partner Program and American Red Cross
Residents are advised to not self-deploy to disaster zones as this may hinder local efforts. Local officials will give specific instructions about how to volunteer if residents are interested.
Additionally, following a disaster, many individuals are susceptible to becoming victims of scams or fraud while in their vulnerable states. Residents should be vigilant of those who may pose as FEMA or other government officials, aid workers, or employees from charitable organizations or insurance companies in order to get your personal information or take your money.
For more emergency preparedness tips from MEMA, click here.