Better safe than sorry—4 ways to prepare for an emergency
As climate change increases the threat of hazards like flooding and extreme heat in our community, it is more important than ever to make sure we are prepared for emergencies. In 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uncovered that 60% of Americans have not practiced what to do when a disaster strikes and 61% do not have an emergency plan.
Building human resilience, or making sure every resident is prepared for disasters, is an important part of Springfield’s 2017 Climate Action and Resilience Plan. A key part of building resiliency is that everyone knows steps to take to feel ready when a disaster happens.
Here are 4 ways you can prepare for any emergency (from fires to floods to chemical spills, and everything inbetween):
- Create an emergency plan. Making a plan is an important step to feeling prepared. Chances are your school or workplace has an emergency plan (whether you know about it or not) and your home should too! Plans should include identifying people who can help you when a disaster happens, picking a place to meet friends and family after a disaster, and selecting ways to stay informed, among other important details.
Also, remember to practice your plan. If you never test it out it you might not remember what to do when the time comes and every second counts. You may also think of improvements to your plan if you see how it works in the real world.
Tip: Don’t reinvent the wheel! FEMA created an easy-to-fill-out emergency plan template that you can download and print from their website.
- Stash an emergency kit. No one wants to be stuck in their house during a power outage only to realize that they don’t have batteries for their flashlight. In addition to flashlights and batteries, kits should include things like first aid, a radio, a whistle, canned food, bottled water, medication, and a copy of your emergency plan. A list of things to pack can be found here.
Tip: Because some emergencies require you to stay in place (e.g., winter storms) while others require you to evacuate immediately (e.g., fires) you should have both a “go” and a “stay” kit. “Stay” kits should include enough water, food, medication, and other supplies to last you at least 3 days. “Go” kits should be packed in a backpack, easy to carry, and stored in a convenient location in your house.
- Sign up for emergency alerts. There are several emergency notification services that you can sign up for to make sure you know when a disaster occurs. Springfield residents are encouraged to sign up for Reverse 911 to receive emergency information quickly. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also has a free mobile app called Massachusetts Alerts that delivers location-based warnings to your phone.
Tip: Springfield community members are also encouraged to create a Smart911 safety profile, which helps responders locate and help you in the event of an emergency.
- Volunteer. If you are a current or retired health professional, you should consider signing up for the City of Springfield Medical Reserve Corps. Members of this group use their medical skills to help out in times of crisis.
Not a healtcare professional? You can also get involved with the American Red Cross.
Tip: The Red Cross website can help you find First Aid and CPR certification classes near you, so you can step in to save the day.
As you can see, dealing with disasters doesn’t have to be daunting—Springfield has the resources and know-how you need to make you feel ready no matter what comes your way.
To find out more about what Springfield is doing to build human resilience to emergencies and address other sustainability issues, visit our Resilient Springfield Dashboard.