Make a plan

September is National Preparedness Month

Every week during the month of September the Weston Emergency Reserve Corps (WERC) highlighted specific steps that we can all take to be prepared for emergencies as individuals, as families, and as a community.

Here's a summary:

Week 1 - Make a Plan

Make a family emergency plan: See www.ready.govfor great resources and templates you can use to make your plans
Sign up for alerts and warnings: Register for Weston’s emergency notification system at
Check out Weston's Community Emergency Preparedness & Response Guide for tips on making your 72-hour kit. Prepared by Weston's Fire Department and available online
learn skills

Week 2 - Learn Life Saving Skills

The reality is that in a disaster, first responders may not be able to reach everyone immediately. When help is needed, it is important to know what to do. The Weston Emergency Reserve Corps recommends being trained in at least CPR and basic first aid. As a quick and easy first step, do the free online program called You Are the Help Until Help Arrives.

For hands-on training, one way to find nearby CPR classes is through the Red Cross website. Meanwhile, the nationwide Stop the Bleed initiative focuses specifically on non-professionals learning to use tourniquet and other bleed control techniques, since hemorrhage as the most common cause of preventable death in trauma. See for more information.

Life-saving skills also include those that help create a safe environment. Know basic home maintenance to protect your family and household. For instance:

  • Review (or learn) how to turn off your home’s utilities like natural gas, electricity, and the water supply
  • Know where your fire extinguishers are, what the different types mean, and make sure you could easily access and use them in an emergency
  • Put carbon monoxide and smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them regularly and replace them every ten years. The fire department will come and help you install and check them if you just give them a call

Lastly, make sure to involve everyone in your household in these preparations, even the kids. Among the many kid-friendly resources available is the Ready 2 Help card game, which reinforces five main actions: Stay Safe, Stay Calm, Get Help, Give Info, and Give Care. More information can be found at


Week 3 - What Happens When It's Not a Test?

Starting at about 2:18 p.m. on October 3rd, FEMA will be conducting a nationwide test of both the Emergency Alert System (TV and radio) and Wireless Emergency Alert (cellphone) system. (Originally scheduled for 9/20) Don’t be alarmed, but do pay attention.

Talk to your family about this test and have a plan for how you would get information and communicate with each other in an emergency. We assume that we can contact each other basically whenever we want, wherever we want. In a crisis, that may not be a safe assumption. Battery powered radios and walkie-talkies, family and friends phone trees, analog phone options, and designated gathering points can all be useful parts of a backup communications plan.

Residents should make sure that all their contact information is kept updated in WestonAlerts, the emergency notification system used for vital announcements limited to the town. Go to for more information and to update your contact preferences (i.e. phone, email, text).

It is also worth looking into installing the FEMA app on your smartphone. Some of its benefits include being able to get real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide, which is great for families with kids in far-off colleges or relatives in other states, and the ability to locate open emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers. It is available for Apple and Android phones.

financial prep

Week 4 - Save for an Emergency

This week it is time to focus on financial and legal readiness. Supplies and communications may get more attention in the press, but lack of good planning in these areas can be just as debilitating.

There are three key elements to good financial preparedness:

  1. Make sure that your insurance is appropriate for the sorts of incidents you and your property are most likely to face. For guidance, see FEMA’s Document and Insure Your Property guidelines. Also, note that homeowners insurance does not typically cover flooding, so you may need flood insurance if your property is susceptible.
  2. Confirm that all legal documentation is up to date, with copies stored somewhere safe, online and away from home. This includes wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney, any significant titles and deeds, and personal IDs, such as Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, and passports.
  3. Be prepared to access all of this information quickly, easily, and remotely. You should be able to grab key documents (e.g., passports, critical medical information) with five minutes warning, along with small amount of cash ready to go, preferably in small bills, since ATMs and credit cards may not be reliable in a major disaster. Online access is great, but not always available in an emergency, so consider what documents you want to be sure to have as physical copies.

For more information on these and other recommendations, visit FEMA's Financial Preparedness web page and check out the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit document.


Weston Emergency Reserve Corps

If you are interested in getting more involved in community crisis preparedness and response, contact the Weston Emergency Reserve Corps through Weston’s Health Department at (781) 786-5030 or online. There is no obligation to serve in an emergency, but we will make sure that you have the knowledge and training you need to be ready and able.

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