NEWBURYPORT — Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Christopher LeClaire and the Newburyport Fire Department are recommending a series of precautions in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane during Emergency Preparedness Month.
September has been declared by Governor 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 the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season began on June 1 and will end on November 30. Historically, hurricanes and tropical storms in August and September have had the greatest impact on New England communities, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near normal hurricane season this year, which could produce between nine and 15 storms. Between two and four of those storms are predicted to be major hurricanes.
“Hurricanes can be incredibly powerful, and we want residents to prepare themselves to best respond in the event one of these storms approaches our area,” Chief LeClaire said. “Residents should pay attention to weather and media reports, prepare an emergency kit and safe meeting spot, and, in the event of such a storm, check in on the elderly, those who are ill and those living alone.”
MEMA has several safety tips for residents in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm in our area:
Before a Hurricane:
- Stay informed by signing up for emergency alerts.
- Know if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone. Hurricane evacuation zones are areas where evacuation may be necessary due to dangerous storm surges.
- Develop a family emergency plan by establishing meeting locations, creating an emergency contact plan, planning how to evacuate and learning how to shelter in place. Practice your plan with your entire family, and make sure the plan accounts for individuals who have access needs, seniors, children and pets.
- Acquaint yourself with the emergency plans at places where your family spends considerable time, such as your workplace or your children’s school.
- Those receiving medical treatment or home health services can work with a medical provider to learn how to maintain care in the event of a hurricane that requires evacuation.
- Create an emergency kit. Make sure your emergency kit is specific to your family’s needs.
- Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Prepare for power outages. Consider purchasing a generator. If you do, be sure to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions to use it safely. NEVER run a generator indoors, in a garage or with the exhaust facing the home or home air intakes.
- Take photos or videos of your possessions to create a record for insurance purposes.
- Prepare your home if a storm is coming by securing outdoor objects, clearing rain gutters, covering windows with shutters or plywood (do not use tape), turn off propane tanks that aren’t being used, elevate items in your basement in case of flooding, check your sump pump, unplug sensitive electronic equipment, clear nearby catch basins, park vehicles in areas that are unlikely to flood and remove boats from the water.
During a Hurricane:
- Do not go out during a hurricane or tropical storm, if possible. Do not walk through flowing water. Never drive through flooded roads.
- Monitor local media for updated weather information.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take only essential items, and bring pets if possible.
- If told to shelter in place, stay indoors and away from windows and listen to local television or radio for updates. Conditions may change quickly, so be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
After a Hurricane:
- Follow instructions from public safety officials. If you have evacuated, return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies, including downed power lines and gas leaks.
- If your power is out, follow power outage safety tips. Stay away from downed utility wires. Always assume a downed power line is live.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and away from affected areas and roads until authorities deem them safe.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.