Make a plan in case of a disaster

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – As part of Emergency Preparedness Month, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) urges families to ‘Make a Plan’. This would include developing a Family Emergency Communications Plan that will ensure that family members have a way to contact one another before, during and after a disaster in case family members are separated, which is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school, camp or at a friend’s house. This plan should also address how your family plans to reunite after the immediate crisis passes.

During and immediately after a disaster, it is often easier to access someone outside of the impacted area. Therefore, it is important to ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person. It is also important to remember that if telephone service is disrupted due to high volume, text messages and the internet can often be a viable alternative for communicating with family. Make sure everyone within your family knows the name, address and telephone number of the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person.

As part of a Communication Plan, you should create a personal support network and a list of contacts that include friends, neighbors, caregivers, service/care providers, and others who might be able to assist during an emergency. It is important keep a list of contact phone numbers in a safe, accessible place, particularly if your cell phone is lost or dead.

A Family Emergency Communications Plan can help reassure everyone’s safety and minimize the stress associated with emergencies. To ensure you will be able to reunite after a disaster, it can be helpful to designate two meeting areas for family members – one within your community as your primary location, and one outside of your community as your alternate location. Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of the community, so a second location outside of your community would be more accessible to all family members.

Lastly, do not forget your pets. Remember, when you go, they go. Make plans ahead of time to take your pet to stay at relatives, friends or a kennel outside of the affected area, and know the locations of pet-friendly hotels and motels.

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA’s staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – individuals, families, non-profits and businesses – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter and Facebook. Also, sign up for Massachusetts Alerts to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

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