General Planning Tips

What Is a Good Plan?
A good plan is relevant to your concerns and needs. It is simple, clear, and flexible. It is important to review it periodically, and any changes must be made known to everyone involved. Most important, the plan needs to be understood by everyone involved in it.

In a major emergency, you will not have time to look for your plan, find phone numbers, etc. Small wallet-sized cards with important contact numbers and meeting place information should be given to everyone in your plan.

If you have an au pair, a nanny, or a housekeeper, they should know the plan. If English is not their first language, be sure they understand how they fit into your plan. You should also know their contact numbers.

Having a good plan could save your life, the people and pets you care about, and the life of a first responder.

Things to Consider
  • 911: Use only to report life-threatening emergencies. In many major emergencies 911 systems go down from overload.
  • Cell Phones: Emergency calls to 911 by cell go through State Police dispatch, not to Weston directly.
  • Children: Whether your children are heading off to college, camp or abroad, be sure there are emergency procedures in place. Ensure that your children know what to do if something happens where they are, or at home or while they are away.
  • LIP: Teach everyone included in your plan how to give 911 dispatchers LIP (Location, Identification and Problem).
  • Plans: Plans should include all types of emergencies, from Floods to Avian Flu outbreaks. Good plans cover all types of emergencies and are simple as well as flexible.
  • Talk: Be sure everyone included in your plan knows the plan:
Your Emergency Plan Should Include
  • Contacts: Have a contact outside of Massachusetts and if possible outside of the region that everyone in your plan knows they should call if they become separated or cannot get to your designated meeting point. Be sure the contact understands their role in your plan.
  • Evacuation: If an evacuation is ordered, follow the instructions carefully. Have supplies readily available to take, take important papers, and take your pets.
  • Meeting Place: Designate a meeting place in case you get separated.
  • Pets: Include your pets in your plans. Put together supplies for pets, including:
    • Food
    • Inoculation papers
    • Medication
    • Water
  • Sheltering in Place: Everyone should know how to shut off heat, air-conditioning, flues and vents. Have designated safe rooms. This should include a room higher up, as most chemicals are heavier than air, so the higher the safe room the better in most chemical emergencies. And one room lower; if there is a tornado, you should go to the basement.
On the Road
  • If caught out in a toxic event stay upstream, upwind and uphill. Go at least 10 city blocks and further in many incidents. If right in the midst of a toxic vapor cloud, travel cross wind. Keep your windows shut, heat or air-conditioning off.
  • Keep emergency animal kits in your car, if your pet frequently travels with you. This should include copies of vaccinations, food, water etc.
  • Keep emergency kits in your car, including contact numbers.
  • Keep road maps in your car.
  • Keep your gas tank full.
Supplies for Home & Car
At a minimum you should have:
  • Batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Cash
  • Flashlight
  • Food
  • Half a tank of gas
  • Water
A good plan has contingencies for all types of emergencies.

More About Supplies
How much food and water to have on hand varies a great deal. Experts recommend different amounts for different types of disasters. In weather events, experts recommend a 3 to 5 day supply. In case of pandemic avian flu, the recommendations vary greatly. Some say 2 weeks, other experts say 3 months. You need to do your own research and make your own determination. But there are some things to consider:

Unlike hurricane events where food and water might take a little more than a week to start flowing into impacted areas, in an avian flu pandemic, as people who move and distribute the products become ill, food and other staples will become scarcer as time goes by. It is probably better to store staples to meet the worst case scenario, such as a pandemic.

Resources with More Information
There are many websites that list types of foods, shelf life and storage protocols. We encourage you to visit them.

Other types of supplies also differ according to the incident. Again, avian flu has a specific list of items. Things like surgical/respiratory masks, unscented bleach, rubber gloves are more important in a flu pandemic than in a blizzard.

The American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) all have recommendations that you should consider.

More on Sheltering in Place
What this means depends on the type of emergency. Storms, whether a blizzard or hurricane generally mean “hunkering down” until the storm passes. In a tornado, you should seek shelter in a safe place - below ground if possible. In a chemical spill or accident, seek shelter in a safe room as high as possible.

In an avian flu pandemic, sheltering in place will be the equivalent of social distancing, limiting your exposure to groups of people. You might home school your children, work from home if possible, and eliminate all types of group activities.