Springfield officials urge residents to be ready for disasters

Sept. 9, 2016 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – With a hurricane making both headlines and a mess of the East Coast and a New England winter approaching, city officials urged residents to be prepared for both natural and man-made disasters.

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month and Mayor Domenic Sarno noted during a press conference on Sept. 6 that during recent past natural emergency “because of emergency preparedness we were able to make sure every one of the residents affected received the supplies and care they needed.”

Helen Caulton Harris, Springfield health commissioner, used an example from her own life. She slipped off a ladder while changing the battery in a smoke detector.

“While I was laying there, bleeding, I wondered, ‘What do I do now?’”

Harris, however, had planned for such emergencies and said people must prepare a disaster kit and take certain organizational steps.

According to a new survey commissioned by the Ad Council, “more than 60 percent of Americans say preparation for natural or man-made disasters is very important to them, but a staggering only 17 percent of Americans claim to be prepared for an emergency situation.”

The Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services recommends every family have a disaster kit that includes: bottled water (1 gallon per person/per day for three days); canned goods and nonperishable foods; manual can opener; radio (battery-powered or hand crank), with extra batteries; flashlight or lantern, with extra batteries; first aid kit; diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, if needed; pet food, supplies, tag, crate, if needed; prescription medications and eyeglasses; copies of important documents; whistle to signal for help; sleeping bag or blanket (per person); change of clothes and sturdy shoes (per person); personal hygiene items; matches in a waterproof container; and cash or travelers checks

The office also recommends resident to develop a contact list for every family member, including work, school, and cell phone numbers; pick an out-of-state friend and another who lives near you as your family’s contacts; review your town/city emergency preparedness plan; check with your local public safety officials about local notification systems and how to register; create an evacuation plan and identify a meeting place for your family near your home and another outside your neighborhood; and find out how your children’s schools will handle emergency situations including where students will be taken if they are evacuated, how the school will notify you, and how you will meet your child.

Emergency Preparedness Director Bob Hassett said Springfield has been “tested by trial and tragedy” and that preparedness is “a duty we all share.” He also recommended residents make sure their property insurance is up to date and reflects any improvements made, as well as create an inventory of possessions.

"It’s our responsibility,” he said, “to be as prepared as possible.”

For more information contact Public Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Coordinator Tony L. Pettaway at 750-2696 or at tpettaway@springfieldcityhall.com.

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