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Preparedness Is Key.

Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorThis year, the world has seen even more extreme weather events.  In Western Massachusetts and the Northeast, we have not had to experience the devastating forest fires that are still burning, or natural events such as earthquakes, that have happened in other parts of the U.S. and the world.  While we are fortunate in that way, we’ve still seen severe storms that have done major damage, interrupted service, caused flooding, and have even taken lives.

Floods are often underestimated, and have killed more people in the United States than other types of severe weather.  Flash floods are fast and unforgiving, and can move boulders the size of cars, rip out swaths of trees, and destroy buildings and bridges.  A flash flood is a rapid rise of water from heavy rain, snow melt, dam failure, etc., which travels along low areas damaging everything in its path.  

Flash floods are fast and unforgiving, and can move boulders the size of cars, rip out swaths of trees, and destroy buildings and bridges.

With any weather event, it is always important to be prepared.  Here are some tips from regarding flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, microbursts, and severe storms: 

  • Are you in a low area with greater flood potential?  If so, be extra alert for flood watches and warnings.
  • Make sure that your homeowners’/rental insurance covers flooding or water damage.
  • Store important papers and personal information in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Create an evacuation plan before flooding happens, which includes having a safe place to go as well as a planned evacuation route. 
  • Determine a meeting place should members of your household get split up. 
  • Make sure your evacuation route has accounted for potential flooding on the roads.
  • Keep your car fueled up and have an emergency auto hammer inside to break the windows in the event you need to escape. 
  • Store drinking water in food-grade containers as there may be service interruptions, or contaminated water supplies. 
  • Get a NOAA weather radio/battery powered radio to keep on hand as well as backup batteries. Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office to find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond.
  • Buy supplies before the hurricane/storm season and keep a stock of food which can be easily transported and doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration, such as nuts and protein bars.
  • Keep first aid supplies on hand, as well as necessary prescription medications. 
  • Have a charged battery pack for your phone as well as a charging cable, along with a flashlight.
  • Purchase emergency supplies ahead of time, rather than waiting for the pre-storm rush. 

During a hurricane:

  • If you are not ordered to evacuate, take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway.  Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can.  Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. 
  • If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm.  Remember that at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane-force winds coming from the opposite direction.

During a flood:

  • If you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately, bringing necessary supplies and personal documents.
  • Do not venture through flooded waters on foot or in a car as the rate of flow can be deceptive and debris carried in the flood can be hidden below the surface.  Vehicles can be swept away in 18-24 inches of water.
  • Move to higher ground.

Many of us are fortunate, where we live, to not be impacted by severe weather events very often.  Still, it is always a good idea to be prepared, as recent storms have proved.  It’s helpful to have a disaster supply kit ready, just in case.  Here are some items to include:

  • Water supply: 1 gallon per person per day
  • Food that won’t spoil, and doesn’t need refrigeration or cooking
  • One change of clothing per person
  • One blanket/sleeping bag per person
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Emergency tools
  • Battery powered emergency NOAA radio
  • Portable radio
  • Flashlight & extra batteries
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Cash & credit card
  • ID & important documents
  • Map of the local area
  • Battery pack and charging cable for mobile phone
  • Mobile phone
  • Pet supplies including water, food, a pet carrier, and any medications

Other ways to be proactive include removing clutter and other tripping hazards from walkways, stairs, and doorways in the event that the power does go out and you need to exit the home in the dark or with a flashlight. Older adults might consider taking a balance class which can help with the ability to evacuate in an emergency. 

LifePath’s Healthy Living Program offers a workshop to help older adults reduce their risk of falls.  “A Matter of Balance-Managing Concerns About Falls” has been shown to significantly reduce the fear of falling in those who take the workshop, as well as to increase their sense of control over potential falls.  For more information, call Healthy Living Program Manager Andi Waisman at 413-773-5555 x2297 or 978-544-2259 x2297, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can find more weather preparedness information here.