Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for emergencies is a proactive, common-sense approach that allows us to take some control over the unpredictable. Preparation is far easier, cheaper and more effective than dealing with an emergency while it is happening. As the frequency and intensity of natural disasters becomes our new normal, it makes sense to prepare for resource shortages. The Scout Motto says it best: Be prepared!

http://www.ready.gov/ http://www.care2.com/causes/5-preparations-before-next-superstorm.html



Is this really necessary? Aren’t these sorts of things rare?

Shifting weather patterns are making storms more intense, frequent and unpredictable. In the last four years, we have seen some extreme weather and just recently, three major, multi-day power outages in Ashland. Preparation for resource shortages will make us all more resilient, relaxed, in control and capable of helping others out. Whether it is an interruption of electricity, heat or water, communication technology, or access to food, preparation can help us all withstand these challenges. See link for a statement by Jack Hayes, Director of the National Weather Service, saying we need to be “weather-ready nation” and how 2011 was a record-breaking year for the number of billion dollar weather-related disasters. http://www.noaa.gov/extreme2011/index.html See below for a list of extreme weather events in our area:

2012 Superstorm Sandy  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Sandy

2011 Nor’ Easter  http://abcnews.go.com/US/winter-storm-northeast-cleans-deadly-noreaster/...

2011 Tropical Storm Irene  http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/tropical_storm_irene_delu... http://gothamist.com/2011/08/27/video_photos_last-minute_hurricane.php#p...

2011 Tornado  http://www.salon.com/2011/06/02/massachusetts_tornadoes/singleton/

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0602/Massachusetts-tornado-What-are-de... 2011 severe thunderstorm http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/07/western_massachusetts_sto... 2011 Snowfall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashland,_Massachusetts 2010 Flooding http://www.boston.com/news/weather/specials/flooding_mass_2010/ 2008 Ice Storm http://articles.cnn.com/2008-12-14/us/massachusetts.emergency_1_power-af...

Middlesex County has double the nations average for natural disasters  http://www.city-data.com/city/Ashland-Massachusetts.html

Nuclear plants ranked by earthquake risk (Pilgrim Power in Plymouth is second)  http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/articles/what-are-the-odds-us-nuke-plants-r... http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20111207_novusstats.html http://www.noaa.gov/extreme2011/index.html

Why not wait until there is a report of extreme weather coming our way rather than preparing for something that may never happen?

By preparing ahead you will have peace of mind that you have thought this through and have a plan in place. Waiting to do your grocery shopping until there are reports of a major hurricane coming may mean you will be shopping at the worst time -when everyone is really stressed out and is competing for the same supplies. Because supermarkets have “just-in-time” stock of their inventory, their 3-5 day supply can evaporate quickly with nervous shoppers sometimes hoarding. If after the storm, the roads are impassable or if there is a long-term outage, supermarkets may be unable to replenish their supply. By keeping a stock of non-perishables at home, you are not only preparing for an emergency, you are making it easy to take advantage of bulk purchase savings or purchasing when there is a sale. By making improvements to your house to increase passive solar gain, you will not only be preparing for the lack of heat during a power outage during the cold months, you’ll be saving on energy costs. Installing a generator or off-grid solar panels will give you a limited supply to keep your freezer, or sump pumps, or heat circulation going just enough to avoid major house damage or a huge loss of food at a critical time. In short, these preparations may keep you from losing money. You can also prepare by learning new skills, such as fire-building, canning, vegetable gardening, etc. and by building community in your neighborhood and throughout town. After Tropical Storm Irene, Ashland residents, Matt and Leah Marshquist had 9 trees down in their yard but with a 14 month old child at home, few tools or expertise and little money to hire someone, their friends and family came through to help them out. A neighbor cut up one of the trees, a relative cut up many more, friends gathered up branches and logs, and other friends hauled it away in their truck. Many other stories of neighbors helping neighbors abound but how many more would there be if we had a whole community of people looking out for one another?

How can I get help to pay for some of the more costly improvements?

http://www.masssave.com/ http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/eem... http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=mortgages.energy_efficient_mortgages http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/all-about-ene... http://www.greenbuilding.com/professionals/green-building-programs http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/seeing-red-gr... http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/seeing-red-gr...

I am a renter. -What should I do?

First, invite other tenants to a meeting about emergency preparedness. Go over what would you would do during various emergency scenarios and what your role is versus your landlord’s. If you have an unresponsive landlord, what can you all do as tenants to help each other out? What resources can you pool together? Are there town resources that can help you should your landlord be unavailable? Second, hold another get-together but this time invite the whole neighborhood and discuss your concerns, your ideas for readiness and see if there are any opportunities to combine resources. Next, create a “deep pantry”. Buy extra of the foods you already eat that are non-perishable. Have a system in place to rotate the food so that the oldest is consumed first and is replaced by newer items. Get to know the other neighbors on the street. Ask what they did to prepare in past emergencies and what they would do differently. See if there any opportunities to combine resources for preparation. Talk to your landlord about her/his plan to ensure your safety and comfort should there be an emergency. Are there any improvements that could be made that could help make things more comfortable during a power outage like additional insulation? If the landlord is concerned about cost, suggest the MassSave program to help pay for upgrades that also save you energy.