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ICE (In Case of Emergency) for Cell Phones
Everyone should have “ICE” contacts in their cell phones. The idea behind this is to enable first responders (paramedics, firefighters, police officers) to identify people and contact their next of kin to obtain important medical information. People are encouraged to enter in their emergency contact person(s) in their mobile phone book in the following format ICE1-mom, ICE2-dad, ICE3, etc.

Family Emergency Communication Plan
Develop a “Family Emergency Communication Plan” in case family members are separated from one another during an emergency, such as a winter storm, hurricane, or any unexpected event (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), and have a plan for getting back together. Every family/household should be prepared for emergencies. This includes pre-planning and have an emergency supply kit.

Fire / Smoke Alarm
Make a fire escape plan for your family. Sketch out a floor plan of your home, including all rooms, windows, interior and exterior doors, stairways, fire escapes and smoke alarms. Make sure that every family member familiar with the layout. Have a place to meet in front of your home. Use a portable phone or a neighbor’s phone to call 911. Once you get out, stay out. Do not go back inside for any reason. Practice makes perfect. Every second counts during a real fire. Hold family fire drills frequently and at various times until the escape plans become second nature. Once you’ve mastered the escape process, hold a drill when family members are sleeping so you can test each family member’s ability to waken and respond to the smoke alarm. Young children might sleep through the sound of the smoke alarm. Be prepared for a family member to wake children for fire drills and in a real emergency.

Winter Storms
This is New England, we must all be prepared for winter storms.
A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area.
A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area.
A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!
Keep an emergency supply kit in your home
Keep your car “winterized” with antifreeze. Carry a winter car kit that includes a windshield scraper, flashlight, candle and matches, tow chain or rope, shovel, tire chains, blanket, extra mittens, bag of sand or salt, a fluorescent distress flag and an emergency flare.

For further information please visit these sites:

American Red Cross
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency)
Ready Gov

Enroll in the Watertown Police Department Rapid Notify program. This program enables you to receive timely notification regarding community issues or emergencies. Follow this link to enroll. Follow the instructions there to set up your desired contact information. You will be provided with a login to access the portal to update your contact information.
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Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as making an emergency supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or man-made emergency. However, there are important differences among natural disasters that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Some natural disasters are easily predicted, others happen without warning. Planning what to do in advance is an important part of being prepared.

Find out what natural disasters are most common in your area. You may be aware of some of your community’s risks: others may surprise you. Historically, flooding is the nation’s single most common natural disaster. Flooding can happen in every U.S. state and territory. Earthquakes are often thought of as a West Coast phenomenon, yet 45 states and territories in the United States are at moderate to high risk from earthquakes and are located in every region of the country. Other disasters may be more common in certain areas. Tornados are nature’s most violent storms and can happen anywhere. However, states located in “Tornado Alley,” as well as areas in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Florida are at the highest risk for tornado damage. Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Scientists can now predict hurricanes, but people who live in coastal communities should plan what they will do if they are told to evacuate.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has information available about the following natural disasters:

  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme Heat
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Wildfires
  • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Planning what to do in advance is an important part of being prepared. Find out what natural disasters are most common in your area. For more general information, see “Are you Ready?” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or Disaster Safety from the Red Cross.
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[toggle title=”Biological”]
A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases. Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from other people.

If There is a Biological Threat

Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. While it is possible that you will see signs of a biological attack, as was sometimes the case with the anthrax mailings, it is perhaps more likely that local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual illness or there will be a wave of sick people seeking emergency medical attention. You will probably learn of the danger through an emergency radio or TV broadcast, or some other signal used in your community. You might get a telephone call or emergency response workers may come to your door.

In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what you should do. It will take time to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news including the following:

  • Are you in the group or area authorities consider in danger?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?
  • Are medications or vaccines being distributed?
  • Where? Who should get them?
  • Where should you seek emergency medical care if you become sick?

During a declared biological emergency:

  1. If a family member becomes sick, it is important to be suspicious.
  2. Do not assume, however, that you should go to a hospital emergency room or that any illness is the result of the biological attack. Symptoms of many common illnesses may overlap.
  3. Use common sense, practice good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs, and seek medical advice.
  4. Consider if you are in the group or area authorities believe to be in danger.
  5. If your symptoms match those described and you are in the group considered at risk, immediately seek emergency medical attention.

If you are potentially exposed:

  1. Follow instructions of doctors and other public health officials.
  2. If the disease is contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment. You may be advised to stay away from others or even deliberately quarantined.
  3. For non-contagious diseases, expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.

If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance nearby:

  1. Quickly get away.
  2. Protect yourself. Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing. Examples include two to three layers of cotton such as a t-shirt, handkerchief or towel. Otherwise, several layers of tissue or paper towels may help.
  3. Wash with soap and water.
  4. Contact authorities.
  5. Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news and information including what the signs and symptoms of the disease are, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed and where you should seek medical attention if you become sick.
  6. If you become sick seek emergency medical attention.

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[toggle title=”Chemical”]

A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment.

Possible Signs of Chemical Threat

  • Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, having trouble breathing or losing coordination.
  • Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion.
  • If You See Signs of Chemical Attack: Find Clean Air Quickly
  • Quickly try to define the impacted area or where the chemical is coming from, if possible.
  • Take immediate action to get away.
  • If the chemical is inside a building where you are, get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area, if possible.
  • If you can’t get out of the building or find clean air without passing through the area where you see signs of a chemical attack, it may be better to move as far away as possible and “shelter-in-place.
  • If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest way to find clean air. Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go inside the closest building and “shelter-in-place.
  • If You Think You Have Been Exposed to a Chemical.
  • If your eyes are watering, your skin is stinging, and you are having trouble breathing, you may have been exposed to a chemical.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to a chemical, strip immediately and wash.
  • Look for a hose, fountain, or any source of water, and wash with soap if possible, being sure not to scrub the chemical into your skin.
  • Seek emergency medical attention.
  • For more information, see “Are you Ready?” from Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Explosions

  • Take shelter against your desk or a sturdy table.
  • Exit the building ASAP.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Check for fire and other hazards.
  • Take your emergency supply kit if time allows.

If there is a fire after an explosion

  • Exit the building ASAP.
  • Crawl low if there is smoke
  • Use a wet cloth, if possible, to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Use the back of your hand to feel the upper, lower, and middle parts of closed doors.
  • If the door is not hot, brace yourself against it and open slowly.
  • If the door is hot, do not open it. Look for another way out.
  • Do not use elevators
  • If you catch fire, do not run. Stop-drop-and-roll to put out the fire.
  • If you are at home, go to a previously designated meeting place.
  • Account for your family members and carefully supervise small children.
  • Never go back into a burning building.

If you are trapped in debris after an explosion

  • If possible, use a flashlight to signal your location to rescuers.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement so that you don’t kick up dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand. (Dense-weave cotton material can act as a good filter. Try to breathe through the material.)
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are.
  • If possible, use a whistle to signal rescuers.
  • Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

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[toggle title=”Nuclear Blast”]
A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. During a nuclear incident, it is important to avoid radioactive material, if possible. While experts may predict at this time that a nuclear attack is less likely than other types, terrorism by its nature is unpredictable. If there is advanced warning of an attack:
Take cover immediately, as far below ground as possible, though any shield or shelter will help protect you from the immediate effects of the blast and the pressure wave.

If there is no warning:

  1. Quickly assess the situation.
  2. Consider if you can get out of the area or if it would be better to go inside a building to limit the amount of radioactive material you are exposed to.
  3. If you take shelter go as far below ground as possible, close windows and doors, turn off air
  4. conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems. Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
  5. To limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about shielding, distance and time.
  • Shielding: If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the radiation will be absorbed, and you will be exposed to less.
  • Distance: The farther away you are away from the blast and the fallout the lower your exposure.
  • Time: Minimizing time spent exposed will also reduce your risk.

Use available information to assess the situation. If there is a significant radiation threat, health care authorities may or may not advise you to take potassium iodide. Potassium iodide is the same stuff added to your table salt to make it iodized. It may or may not protect your thyroid gland, which is particularly vulnerable, from radioactive iodine exposure. Plan to speak with your health care provider in advance about what makes sense for your family.

For more information, see Potassium Iodide from Centers for Disease Control.
For more general information, see “Are you Ready?” from Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A radiation threat, commonly referred to as a “dirty bomb” or “radiological dispersion device (RDD)”, is the use of common explosives to spread radioactive materials over a targeted area. It is not a nuclear blast. The force of the explosion and radioactive contamination will be more localized. While the blast will be immediately obvious, the presence of radiation will not be clearly defined until trained personnel with specialized equipment are on the scene. As with any radiation, you want to try to limit exposure. It is important to avoid breathing radiological dust that may be released in the air.

Radiation Threat or “Dirty Bomb”

If you are outside and there is an explosion or authorities warn of a radiation release nearby, cover your nose and mouth and quickly go inside a building that has not been damaged. If you are already inside check to see if your building has been damaged. If your building is stable, stay where you are.

  1. Close windows and doors; turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems.
  2. If you are inside and there is an explosion near where you are or you are warned of a radiation release inside, cover nose and mouth and go outside immediately. Look for a building or other shelter that has not been damaged and quickly get inside.
  3. Once you are inside, close windows and doors; turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems.
  4. If you think you have been exposed to radiation, take off your clothes and wash as soon as possible.
  5. Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
  6. Remember: To limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about shielding, distance and time.
  • Shielding: If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the radiation will be absorbed, and you will be exposed to less.
  • Distance: The farther away you are away from the blast and the fallout the lower your exposure.
  • Time: Minimizing time spent exposed will also reduce your risk.

As with any emergency, if an Emergency Notification system is not used by local authorities, they may not be able to immediately provide information on what is happening and what you should do. It is important to contact your local government agencies to find out what types of notification systems are available, and ensure that you are on the contact lists. Also monitor available media sources such as TV and radio, or check the Internet often for official news and information as it becomes available.
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For more general information, see “Are you Ready?” from Federal Emergency Management Agency. [/tab]

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