Our man on the ground, Craig Kelley, offers tips for how Catabrigians and others in the path of this week’s major storm can stay safe and secure. These 10 tips are useful for anyone looking down a severe weather event, so bookmark this page and review often!

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Hey Everyone:

Hurricane Jose is on its way to New England, and while it is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it gets to Massachusetts, it may still bring high winds and heavy rains to Cambridge. Ideally, we won’t get anything more than a big storm.

Still, while the City and Eversource will have staff on hand to respond to emergencies as they may arise, the first step in being prepared and staying safe starts with you. And as September is National Preparedness Month, this is a good opportunity to think about how you’ve planned for emergencies and to test out some of those plans.

Please share this email with anyone you think may be interested in it.

Here are some things you can do to help be prepared:

  1. Where is your car parked? Think about moving your car out of its underground garage or other place where it may be flooded or damaged by falling limbs. The T’s Alewife parking garage is only 7 bucks a day and 8 dollars overnight. While it may be a hassle to park there, it would be a safe place to store your car. Remember- your insurance may not cover storm damage to your vehicle depending on your type of coverage. Seriously speaking- someone took my advice on this a few years ago and it saved her car!
  2. Stay away from downed wires. While cable and phone lines might come down as well as electric lines, assume all wires are live and could kill you so stay away from them. To report downed lines, call 911 on your landline (assuming it’s not your phone line that’s down) or Cambridge Police Department’s non-emergency line 617-349-3300 on your cell (that way it does not go to the State Police). (Editor’s note: Whatever municipality you live in, keep your local police department’s non-emergency number handy; it is useful for reporting safety hazards of all sorts).
  3. Talk to your children. Make sure your children know to stay away from downed wires while on their way to school or simply walking around the neighborhood.
  4. Prepare your basement. If you think there is even a remote chance your basement could flood (remember, it could be from sewer backups even if you are nowhere close to a body of water), take time today to move what you can as high as you can and to familiarize yourself with how to turn off gas and electric if necessary. Water that floods up through your drain will most likely be especially yucky, so you really don’t want it to come into contact with anything you value.
  5. Don’t be left in the dark. Make sure you have working flashlights within reach and some extra batteries. The world looks completely different in the dark and you don’t want to be fumbling for your medications or bumping into furniture while you’re headed to the bathroom because the lights don’t work.
  6. Keep the drain open. Identify any street drains near your house and (ideally with your neighbors) think about how to keep them clear of leaves and other debris. It does not take much to clog a storm drain and, once clogged, they simply don’t work any more. Pull out a rake and stick it someplace where you can get to it quickly to rake the drains clear. Remember- there may be cars parked over drains that limit access.
  7. Remove potential debris hazards. Tie down or place inside any items that may be blown around or knocked over by the wind. Your kids’ toy kitchen set or your patio umbrella could do serious damage if it gets airborne.
  8. Talk to your neighbors. Touch base with any neighbors who you think might need a hand. Even if they don’t need help, it’s always reassuring to know you have neighbors who care. Trade phone numbers if you haven’t already. Sometimes you need an extra hand or two to solve a problem in the moment and it’s good to have people you can call (or who can call you) for help.
  9. Shelter in place? Be prepared to stay in for the day. It seems very unlikely that Jose will be the sort of storm that really knocks us off our stride, but Mother Nature can be fickle and it’s best to play it safe. If you have medications or food you need in the next day or so, it’d be a good idea to pick them up today if you can.
  10. Dress appropriately. Dig out your boots and raincoats now. Even in a mild storm, water can pool up by the curb and get sprayed by cars so you’re best off dressing to stay dry anytime you go out.

Remember, while the City has all sorts of resources to help people in need, even in minor storms our first line of safety is ourselves and our neighbors.

Thanks a lot and think dry!

Craig