Four Steps to Ensure Your Safety During Hurricane Season

With August already here, it’s time to start thinking about tropical storms and hurricanes. The South Shore is extremely susceptible to natural events that have the potential to cause great harm, and forecasters predict a busy 2020 hurricane season in the Atlantic. 

Having an emergency plan in place for when a natural disaster occurs is key to ensuring all your loved ones are safe. If you don’t have a plan yet, it’s a great time to start. If you do have a plan, it’s important to consider changes you may need to make in light of COVID-19. 

Due to the pandemic, many of the plans families make to respond to a hurricane may have to be adjusted to keep you safe from both the weather and the virus.

The best time to revisit your preparedness steps is right now, before a serious storm takes aim at the 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 such as a hurricane is often necessary. Families should establish two locations of a potential meet up area. 

The first should be a location close to your home that is familiar with 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 does immense damage to your area. This could be a public shelter or area that has been less effected by the hurricane. 

Due to social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the locations you may have relied upon in the past may not be safe. For example, if you planned to stay with an immunocompromised relative, you want to reconsider to reduce their risk of COVID-19. Be sure all of your locations still work for everyone.

Have an Emergency Contact List 

Establishing an emergency contact list is vital for ensuring your own safety and communicating to others in a crisis. It’s important that if you were affected by a hurricane, you have the ability to send and receive phone calls or text messages. Keep your cell phones charged, and don’t use them (except for emergencies) if the power does go out. 

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 most 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

Members of your family, especially senior citizens, children, or pets all may present complicating factors. Individuals who are disabled or require functional care must be taken into account when preparing to take action. If someone you live with or care for has the potential to be vulnerable in a situation like this, extra planning to ensure their safety is vital. 

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 Agency (MEMA) website.