Sunday October 28, 2012

With Hurricane Sandy beating up the coast toward New England, putting potentially damaging winds and heavy rain into our immediate future, I got a timely lesson in preparedness Friday by stopping for stamps at the Lanesborough post office.

There, waiting to be carried away, was a bookmark-size notice that declared "Rapid EMERGENCY Action Depends on You."

"Make a Plan. Stay Informed. Get Involved" it insisted, pointing me to a website, www.westernMass READY.org, for further information.

I took one and drove on to The Eagle, where I logged on as directed.

What I found was a surprisingly up-to-date and easy-to-navigate site that told me not only how to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, but also who to call in my town for emergency information, where to go for shelter, what to do for my pets, how to safeguard my business, etc.

Beyond the normal precautions of having on hand flashlights, candles, jugs of water and food that needn’t be cooked, here are some steps the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) says we should be taking now if we haven’t already.

n Give family members
the phone number of a contact outside the emergency area who they can call to coordinate communications
in the event of an emergency evacuation.

n Fill the car with gas in case service stations are closed.

n Have some cash on hand in case ATMs are shut down by a power failure.

n Put insurance policies and other important documents in a secure place that’s watertight.

n Elevate articles in the basement that could be damaged by flooding.

n Learn where the gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off utilities.

n Lock doors and windows so they are closed tight against strong winds and rain.

n Download the free ping4alert! app to your smartphone to get weather alerts and messages from MEMA.

There’s much more at www .westernMassREADY.org.

To reach Charles Bonenti:
cbonenti@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6211.
On Twitter: @BE_Lifestyles