Disaster Planning Tips

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your home, your neighborhood, your school or your workplace or force you to be confined to your home.

Download an emergency poster (PDF) with tips about responding to an emergency.

Questions to Ask Yourself
What would you do if basic services you depend on - water, electricity, phones, gas - were cut off? In large disaster emergency officials can't get to everyone at once. How will you survive until they reach you?

Where will you be when disaster strikes? You could be anywhere - at work, at home, in school. Your family could be scattered all over town. How will you find each other? How will you know if everyone is safe? Having a plan is the only way to make sure that you and your family know what to do, how to do it and when to do it when disaster strikes.

MEMA Offers Tips to Help Keep Your Family Safe
Sheltering-in-place is a standard protective action utilized in emergency management," states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Don Boyce. "It is utilized most often during an accident or event in which hazardous materials have been released into the atmosphere, but also during other dangerous conditions, such as a severe storm, like a hurricane, when it is best to be indoors and not outside or on the road."

If a hazardous material, hurricane or other event occurs, state or local public safety officials may instruct you to "shelter-in-place".


As with evacuations, you would be alerted in a variety of ways. Learn what methods are utilized in your community. They could include:
  • Emergency Channel on Shrewsbury Cable 30
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Radio
  • News media
  • Outdoor horns
  • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) - information provided on the radio and television
Shelter-in-Place Steps
The following are steps to be taken only when instructed to "shelter-in-place", not to be completed ahead of time:
  1. If instructed, you should immediately go indoors.
  2. Close and lock all doors and windows. Locking is preferred since it generally ensures that the door or window is shut tight.
  3. Close drapes, blinds and window shades.
  4. For high wind events, protect windows with pre-drilled plywood sheets.
  5. Go to a room in the center of your home with the fewest windows and doors.
  6. It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed during an emergency. Do not call your local fire or police departments for information. Emergency workers will need their lines for emergency use. Call:
    • Emergency Management Office at 508 841-8422
    • Fire Department at 508 841-8522
    • Police Department at 508 845-1212
  7. Take your Family Disaster Kit to that location.
  8. Keep pets indoors. Make sure you have additional food and water supplies for them.
  9. If you have livestock, shelter them, also. Provide them with stored feed and water.
  10. Continue to monitor your Emergency Alert Station (EAS) and other media for official messages and instructions.
  11. Stay inside until officials say otherwise.
If you are in your vehicle and are advised to "shelter-in-place" and are very close to home, your office or a public building, go there immediately.