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Brewster Office of Emergency Management Offers Hurricane Season Preparation Tips
1. Hurricane Risk
Peak of hurricane season is August and September. NOAA predicts above normal hurricane season; but regardless of seasonal forecast, it only takes one storm to severely impact an area. Entire state is at risk; storm surge threat in coastal areas and high winds, heavy rainfall, and inland flooding possible across entire state, as we saw in Irene in 2011. While the last hurricane in Massachusetts was Bob in 1991, the Commonwealth has a history of destructive hurricanes and the threat of tropical cyclones and other natural hazards continue during COVID-19 pandemic
2. How Residents Can Prepare
Know Your Evacuation Zone
Learn if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone: www.mass.gov/knowyourzone
Make an Emergency Plan
Develop a plan with the members of your household to prepare for what to do in a tropical cyclone including making an evacuation plan, planning for individuals with access and functional needs, and any extra considerations during COVID-19 pandemic including how you might evacuate and where you might evacuate to. If you are in a high risk population, the safest option may be to evacuate to a location without the general public such as a hotel, relatives’ home or other destination. https://www.mass.gov/info.../make-a-family-emergency-plan
Build an Emergency Kit
Build an emergency kit containing items that will sustain you and your family in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power or unable to go to a store and customize for your family’s needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, include face coverings, masks, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies that you may need. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/build-an-emergency-kit.
Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts. Learn more about different types of alerting and information tools including the Emergency Alert System, Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, Social Media & Traditional Media, 2-1-1 Hotline, Local Notification Systems: https://www.mass.gov/.../be-informed-and-receive....
Residents of Brewster may visit the Town website at https://www.brewster-ma.gov/ for information regarding impending weather events.
Town of Brewster Smart 911 Emergency Notification System. In an emergency, the quickest and most effective way to deliver information is often via telephone. The Town of Brewster uses a Smart 911 system to send out calls to residents. All publicly listed landlines are currently in the database. If you would like to add your cell phone and/or email address you can create a customized account to receive the information you want. To sign up for this emergency notification service visit: https://www.smart911.com/smart911/ref/reg.action?pa=brewster or access it via the Brewster Police website and click on “Emergency Notification”.
3. What Government is Doing to Prepare
MEMA and the Department of Public Health have developed guidance for the Commonwealth and municipalities for providing operating shelters and conducting evacuations during COVID-19, which will be used to adjust the Commonwealth’s mass care and evacuation plans to help keep individuals both safe and healthy during a disaster.
State and Local agencies are adjusting plans:
Re-evaluating capacities of state-initiated regional shelter sites; preparing for the need for additional evacuation transportation vehicles; adding screening, sanitization, disinfection, and general public health protocols to existing mass care plans; and planning for and preparing to provide sheltering in non-congregate settings such as hotels.
The Cape Cod Regional Emergency Planning Committee (REPC), Barnstable County Health Department, and MEMA have adjusted the regional sheltering plan to support the health and safety of individuals using shelter services during a disaster. Should sheltering become necessary these revised plans will be implemented by public safety officials.
Important Phone Numbers
Call 911 for Medical, Fire, or Police Emergencies
Brewster Police Dept. 508-896-7011 (non-emergency)
Brewster Fire Dept. 508-896-7018 (non-emergency)
Town Hall 508-896-3701
Brewster Department of Public Works 508-896-3212
Brewster Water Department 508-896-5454
Eversource Power Outage Report 1-800-286-2000
National Grid (Gas) 1-800-233-5325
First Step: Stay Informed
Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit and making an emergency plan are the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, it’s important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region. Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. Above all, stay calm, be patient and think before you act. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.
Typical High Risk Seasonal Storms
Typical Storm Hazards
- Hurricane Dangers/Hazards: high winds, heat, flooding, high rainfall/ flash floods, road closures, power outages, downed trees and wires
- Nor’easter Dangers/Hazards: cold, snow, power outages, flooding, road closures, high winds, downed trees and wires
Develop a Plan
- Create a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you and your family members during an emergency. Share your disaster plans with them. Practice your plan with them.
- Make sure they have an extra key to your home, know where you keep your emergency supplies and how to use lifesaving equipment or administer medications.
- If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, find out their emergency plans and work with them to identify back-up service providers.
- If you have a communication-related disability, note the best way to communicate with you.
- The following link will provide additional resources and a printable version of an emergency plan https://www.fema.gov
Acquire a Kit of Emergency Supplies
The first step is to consider how an emergency might affect your individual and family needs. Plan to make it on your own, for at least three days. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It is crucial that you think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if those resources are limited or not available. Basic Supplies: Think first about the basics for survival – food, water, clean air and any life sustaining items you require. Consider two kits. In one kit put everything you and your family (including pets) will need to stay where you are and make it on your own for a period of at least three days or 72 hours. The other kit should be a lightweight, smaller version or “GO” Kit you can take with you if you have to evacuate your home for sheltering purposes. Recommended basic emergency supplies include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener if kit contains canned food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit Medications and Medical Supplies: If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week.
- Emergency Documents: Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, social security numbers, credit card and bank information, and tax records. It is best to keep these documents in a waterproof container.
- Family and emergency contact information
- ID and driver’s license
- Medications and medical equipment
- Personal hygiene items
- Cell phone with chargers
- Spare car and house keys
- Extra cash
- Hearing aids, glasses
Deciding to Stay or Go
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay or go. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use commonsense and available information to determine if there is immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor television and radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. Do not wait until the last minute to make a decision on whether or not to evacuate if this order is given. Complacency and delayed action could result in needless loss of life and damage to property and could endanger the lives of first responders. The Brewster Office of Emergency Management will utilize local and regional TV, Reverse 911, and local social media outlets to communicate information to our residents.
Regional Shelter Information
The Town of Brewster is a member of the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC). The BCREPC is responsible for providing emergency sheltering services for all residents within the County. The Town of Brewster will follow this regional plan should evacuation or temporary sheltering of our residents be needed. There are several pre-designated locations on the Lower, Mid, and Upper Cape utilized for this purpose. The primary shelter for Brewster Residents is the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich. The secondary shelter is located at Nauset Regional High School. Information on the opening of shelters can be obtained through:
Brewster Police 508-896-7011
Brewster Fire 508-896-7018
BCREPC Facebook page
Town of Brewster website, Brewster Fire and Police websites and Facebook pages
The Regional Planning committee website: BCREPC.org
How to Access a Shelter
- • If you feel safe to do so, drive yourself
• If you can’t drive or don’t feel safe driving you may:
- Contact local emergency services (Brewster Police, Fire, Council-on-Aging)
- Contact Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority 1-800-352-7155
- • Returning to your residence from the shelter can be arranged through shelter staff
What to Bring to a Shelter
- The shelter provides a secure facility, a cot to sleep on, food and water, basic first aid, and functional assistance. Beyond that, it is up to you to pack and bring the essentials of your life including extra clothing, cell phone and charger, and medications for a three day (72 hour) period including medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, and oxygen concentrators. Other items to bring include a blanket or sleeping bag, pillow, sturdy shoes, and personal toiletries. The shelters are pet friendly but you should know that pets are housed in crates in a separate area within the shelter. If you take a pet bring the following items:
- Sturdy leash, harnesses and / or carrier to transport pets safely
- A three day supply of food in airtight, waterproof containers
- Medicines/ records
- Documents: vaccination documents, feeding schedules, name and phone number of vet
- Collapsible bowl for water/food
- Cat litter/ pan – manual can opener if needed for food
- A familiar item such as a toy or bedding.
Anyone with verbal communication difficulties, dementia, deafness or reduced hearing, limited English proficiency, or other communication challenges needs to be prepared by bringing their respective communication tools (i.e. hearing aids, communication boards etc.) with you to the shelter.
- If you live at home with the assistance of a caretaker, the caretaker must come to the shelter with you. Make sure the caretaker also brings a three-day “GO” Kit of supplies.
- If you are being served by a Visiting Nurse Agency or a Hospice agency, communicate with them prior to the storm’s onset to make safety arrangements. Keep the agencies phone number with you at all times.
If You Lose Power
- To report a power outage call the Eversource customer outage line at 800-286-2000.
- Stay safe indoors if possible.
- If you have a generator, install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. This will provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
- Use flash lights in the dark, not candles
- If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics
- Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves)
- Leave a light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on
- If electrical power lines are down, don’t touch them. Keep your family and pets away. Call 911 to report hazardous conditions related to downed power lines.
- If you have to drive, watch out for trees and wires in the roadway. Do not drive across a downed power line. Treat all nonworking traffic lights as stop signs and proceed cautiously at intersections.
- Stay clear of all fallen tree limbs and electrical wires as well as anything they are touching—such as puddles and metal fences.
Portable Generator Safety
- NEVER run a generator indoors or in partly enclosed areas such as garages.
- ONLY use outdoors and far from windows, doors, vents, crawl spaces and in an area where adequate ventilation is available and will not accumulate deadly exhaust gas.
- Make sure there is a working carbon monoxide detector within the dwelling.
- Gasoline is extremely flammable and explosive.
- If tank is over-filled, fuel can overflow onto a hot engine and cause fire or explosion.
- Never add fuel while unit is running or hot. Allow generator and engine to cool entirely before adding fuel.
- Do not smoke near fuel or generator.
Town of Brewster Smart 911 Emergency Notification
In an emergency, the quickest and most effective way to deliver information is often via telephone. The Town of Brewster uses a Smart 911 system to send out calls to residents. All publicly listed landlines are currently in the database. If you would like to add your cell phone and/or email address you can create a customized account to receive the information you want.
Sign up by visiting: https://www.smart911.com/smart911/ref/reg.action?pa=brewster or access it via the Brewster Police website and click on “Emergency Notification”.
After the Storm
- Listen to local, regional, and State authorities for information and special instructions.
- Do not return home until evacuation orders are lifted.
- Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
- Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
- Avoid downed power lines. Report dangerous conditions by calling 911
- Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
- Make sure all food items have remained edible.
- Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.