Four Steps to Ensure Your Safety During Hurricane Season

While many think of hurricanes as storms that mainly threaten the Caribbean and states in the southern United States, the South Shore is also extremely susceptible to hurricanes.

Having an emergency plan in place for when a natural disaster occurs is key to ensuring the safety of your loved ones.

As we're currently in hurricane season, if you don’t have a plan for a hurricane yet, now is a great time to start.

If you do have a plan, it’s always a good idea to periodically revisit that plan, as available resources, meeting locations, and other tools can change over time.

Preparing for a storm-related emergency can seem silly when the weather is sunny and beautiful, but it's always better to be ready in advance instead of scrambling as a serious storm takes aim at our region.

Here are the four key things to consider as you start your planning.

Establish a Meeting Location

Meeting up with family or loved ones following a natural disaster is essential, offering the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones are safe.

Families should establish two locations for potential meet-up areas. 

The first should be a location close to your home that is familiar to you and your family. A good example of a meeting location would be your local high school or a relative’s house.   

The second one should be a location that is significantly farther from your home in case the hurricane or tropical storm causes damage in your area. This could be a public shelter or area that has been less affected by the hurricane.

If you already have a plan in place with established meet-up locations, it's a good idea to revisit those choices on a yearly basis in case a location closes, a relative moves away, or a more suitable location becomes available.

Have an Emergency Contact List 

Establishing an emergency contact list is vital for ensuring your own safety and communicating with others in a crisis.

An emergency contact list will help you keep tabs on your loved ones after a natural disaster strikes. If you're injured, an emergency contact list can also be a way for first responders to notify loved ones about your condition and location.

In the event of a hurricane, text messages or phone calls will likely be the easiest ways to stay in touch with your loved ones. As a hurricane approaches, it's important to keep your cell phones charged.

If the power goes out, don’t use them (except for emergencies). 

Phone lines and cell service can go down after a strong storm. Make sure whomever you plan to contact could be reached via social media or another form of communication that isn't a phone call. 

For example, the American Red Cross's Safe and Well Service allows you to register yourself as “safe and well” following a disaster.

You can also search for others to determine if they have checked in as being safe. Facebook also provides a similar feature where you can mark yourself as being safe so others can be aware of your current status. 

Know When to Evacuate - Or Shelter in Place 

If the situation results in your family having to evacuate, there are important factors to remember.

Knowing the route to your designated meeting area is key.

Have essential items that you will need to take with you ready to go. This allows you to quickly and safely relocate from your residence to another location. 

Learn more about how to plan a safe evacuation.

On the other hand, if you feel the situation requires you to shelter in place, there are precautionary steps to be taken.

Within your home, establish a safe room or rooms. These are areas that have limited windows or doors in them, as well as forms of communication such as a television, radio or phone. 

Learn how to develop a plan to shelter in place. 

Consider Your Family’s Specific Needs

Some members of your family, including senior citizens, individuals with mobility challenges, children, and pets, may have certain needs that can present unique challenges in the event of an emergency or evacuation.

It's important to take these needs into account when creating your family's emergency plan.

For example, if a loved one has mobility challenges, choose a meeting location that is fully accessible.

Also, consider family members who have medication needs and try to have an adequate supply on-hand at all times.

Hurricanes and tropical storms are serious events. By planning and preparing now, you’ll be ready and responsive to whatever situation arises. 

For full details on creating your family’s plan, visit the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) website.