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Hurricane Preparedness Infographic: All Data Included in Text Below This is a guest blog post from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Governor Baker has proclaimed July 16–22, 2017 to be Hurricane Preparedness Week to underscore the Commonwealth’s vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes. Historically, the majority of tropical storms and hurricanes that have impacted our region have occurred during the months of August and September. However, we are already in hurricane season, and a damaging storm can occur anytime between now and November.  Therefore, it is not too early to start preparing yourself, your family, your home, and your business for a tropical storm or hurricane.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2017 seasonal outlook predicts an above-normal number of hurricanes this season. Regardless of the number of storms, it only takes one storm to create devastating effects — especially if you aren’t prepared when it hits. Find out more about the hazards of hurricanes, and what you can do to make sure your family, your home, and your business are ready before a storm hits.

Know Your (Evacuation) Zone

Do you know if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone? Use MEMA’s interactive hurricane evacuation zone map to find out.

Coastal communities and areas around rivers and waterways that connect to the ocean have designated hurricane evacuation zones — Zone A, Zone B, and Zone C — based on their risk for storm surge flooding associated with tropical storms or hurricanes. Local or state officials will use the hurricane evacuation zones to call for people living, working, or vacationing in these areas to evacuate in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.  If you know your zone, you and your family will be better prepared to evacuate.

New for 2017, the National Weather Service (NWS) will issue storm surge watches and warnings to alert residents of areas that have a significant risk of life-threatening storm surge flooding from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane.

Make Emergency Plans for Your Family

It’s important to have plans in case your family needs to take action before or during a storm. There are a few things you should consider:

  • Communications Plan — Create a family communications plan so you can stay in touch and find each other in an emergency.
    • Identify safe meeting places both in and away from your neighborhood.
    • Give each family member a list of important phone numbers.
    • Designate one out-of-state friend or relative as the point person for everyone to call and check in with.
    • If telephone service is disrupted, try texting or using social media to communicate with family and friends, and to let others know you’re safe.
  • Evacuation Plan — Create a family evacuation plan that details:
    • Where you will go
    • How you will get there (methods and routes)
    • What you will bring
    • What you will do with your pets
  • Shelter-in-Place Plan — Make sure your family has a plan to shelter in place, which includes storing items you’ll need to stay comfortable while you are at home. Be prepared to shelter in place for at least 72 hours. See the next section to learn how to build an emergency kit.

Make sure your emergency plans are tailored to all of your family members and their needs, including seniors, children, individuals with medical needs, and people with disabilities.

Have an Emergency Kit

Hurricanes can cause extended power outages, flooding, and blocked roads. You should have an emergency kit to sustain yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case you lose power, are stranded in your home, or nearby stores are closed or damaged. Make sure your kit includes:

  • Bottled water
  • Shelf-stable food
  • Flashlights
  • A radio and extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit and sanitation items
  • Important documents and records
  • Clothing
  • A charged cell phone
  • Cash

Depending on the needs of your family, you may need to add:

  • Medication and medical supplies
  • Pet food and pet items

Use this printer-friendly emergency kit checklist for more ideas.

Stay Informed

As a storm approaches, monitor media reports and follow instructions from public safety officials with these tools:

  • Massachusetts Alerts App — Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app for your iOS or Android device. The app provides tropical storm and hurricane warnings, as well as important public safety alerts and information from MEMA.
  • Social Media — Follow MEMA on Twitter (@MassEMA) and Facebook for emergency updates during hurricanes.
  • Mass 2-1-1 — Mass 2-1-1 is the state non-emergency call center for disasters. Call 2-1-1 to find out about shelter locations, travel restrictions, disaster assistance programs, and more. Mass 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.
  • Local Emergency Notification Systems — Check with your local emergency management director to see if your community uses an emergency notification system and learn how to sign up.

Preparing for a tropical storm or hurricane takes a bit of time and effort, but it will be worth it if a storm hits Massachusetts. Share these tips to help friends and family prepare during hurricane season.

Questions about how to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies? Comment below or tweet @MassEMA.

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