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MEMA offers tips  to help keep families safe

FRAMINGHAM — A winter storm in New England can range from a moderate snowfall over a few hours to a chilling Nor’easter, bringing blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow that lasts several days. People can become stranded in their automobiles or trapped at home, without utilities or other services. The aftermath of a winter storm can have an impact on a community or the entire region for days, weeks or even months. Storm effects, in New England, include large snow accumulation, extremely cold temperatures, heavy, wet snow or icing on trees and powerlines, roof collapses, coastal flooding and beach erosion.

Winter storms are also deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the actual storm. The major causes are automobile or other transportation accidents, exhaustion and heart attacks caused by overexertion, “freezing to death” and asphyxiation from improper heating sources. House fires occur more frequently in the winter due to lack of proper safety precautions when using alternate heating sources, like unattended fires and space heaters.

“As with most potential disasters, preparedness, monitoring the Media and common sense can minimize the danger to you and your family,” states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz. “That is why MEMA is sharing this important winter safety information.”

Those who already have an All-Hazard Emergency Supply Kit, as MEMA continues to recommend, are ahead of the curve. However, it is important to check your kit, to ensure it is properly stocked with enough supplies to survive on your own for at least three to five days. Now is also the time to review for Family Communication Plan.

Winter emergency supply kit

◆ Flashlight and extra batteries

◆ Portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries

◆ Charged cell phone

◆ First-aid kit

◆ Essential prescription medicines

◆ Nonperishable food

◆ Manual can opener

◆ Water (one gallon per person/per day)

◆ Baby items, if necessary

◆ Extra blankets and sleeping bags

◆ Fire extinguisher

Family emergency
communications plan

◆ Develop a ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’ in case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), and have a plan for getting back together.

◆ Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the ‘family contact’. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance than across town. Also, calling outside the area will probably be easier than calling into a disaster area.

◆ Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the contact person.

◆ Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of town. Decide on an alternate meeting area for family members.

For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to: www.mass.gov/mema.

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