How to Prepare for Emergencies

The Metropolitan Boston area is exposed to a wide variety of hazards, both natural and man made. Severe storms, fires, hazardous materials spills, earthquakes, and acts of terrorism are just some of the potential emergencies we may encounter. The Town of Brookline does all it can to prepare for emergencies and protect its citizens. However there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family in an emergency.

Consider the Possibilities

Imagine that you have no electricity, no gas, no water, and no telephone service. Imagine that all the businesses are closed and emergency services have not been able to get to you yet. What will you do until help arrives? In a large scale emergency, the initial availability of emergency services may be limited and it is best if you and your family are prepared for an emergency.

Find out how you can prepare yourself, your family, or your business for an emergency. You can also learn what to do in response to a specific disaster, just in case.

Creating a Family Disaster Plan

  • Identify a meeting location near your home if you can’t return home.
  • Identify an alternate location if you can’t return to the area.
  • Identify an out-of-state friend or relative as a contact person for everyone to call.
  • Plan how your family would stay in contact if separated by disaster, or if you can’t return home for some reason.
  • Keep family records in water and fire-proof containers.
  • Know how information is relayed to parents in an emergency and keep the school up-to-date on emergency contact information.
  • Learn first aid / CPR from American Red Cross.
  • Meet with family members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events, including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism and how you will respond to each emergency.
  • Post emergency numbers by every phone. Teach children how to make emergency and long-distance phone calls.
  • Make sure to update and practice your plan with your family

Photo of items that go in a Go Bag such as first aid kit, flashlight, radio, pill box etc...

Build a supply kit and go-bags

In addition to preparing a home disaster kit, place supplies needed for an evacuation in an easy to carry container.


  • Plan for 1 gallon per person per day (for drinking and food preparation / sanitation) in plastic containers.
  • Stock at least a 3-day supply per person


  • Food for infants or persons on special diets
  • Pack a 3-day supply of non-perishable food that requires no cooking, refrigeration, or water such as:
    • Canned meats
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Soup
    • Juices
    • Cereal
    • Cookies
    • Candy
    • Crackers
    • Vitamins

First Aid Kit

Assemble a basic kit for home and car. Include the following:

  • Antiseptic
  • Aspirin pain reliever,
  • Antacid, anti-diarrhea, etc.
  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Latex gloves
  • Needle / tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Tape

Clothing & Bedding

  • Blankets or Sleeping Bags
  • One complete change of clothing per person
  • Rain gear, hats, gloves
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Thermal underwear

Tools & Supplies

  • Basic tools such as hammer, pliers, wrench, etc.
  • Battery-operated radio with spare batteries
  • Cash / travelers checks
  • Chlorine / disinfectant
  • Compass / map
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • Manual can opener
  • Masking tape / plastic sheeting
  • Plastic plates, cups, utensils, garbage bags
  • Signal flare and whistle
  • Utility knife

Special Items

  • Contact lenses / eye glasses / dentures
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Important personal documents (in waterproof container, include passport / birth certificate, wills, account numbers, household inventory)
  • Infant diapers, bottles, formula, medication
  • Make sure car gas tank is at least half full
  • Matches (in waterproof container)
  • Pet care items
  • Prescriptions / special medications
  • Smoke detectors (check batteries regularly)
  • Soap, toilet paper, personal hygiene items

Business Preparedness

The following are some basic steps that businesses should take to prepare for an emergency:

  • Develop and display an evacuation plan and test this plan regularly.
  • Identify critical business functions that absolutely must continue and develop a process to ensure these will carry on.
  • Identify employees that can serve as team leaders. Team leaders should be trained to assist fellow employees in an emergency.
  • Maintain sufficient insurance coverage for your business.
  • Prepare backups and store offsite all computer records, such as payroll, inventory, etc.
  • Prepare employee rosters with emergency contact information.