September is National Preparedness Month. All this month, the Office of Public Health Preparedness will be spotlighting simple steps and tips to help you and your loved ones prepare in the event of an emergency. The new “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign encourages the whole community to work together to be more prepared. You can start doing your part to build a more resilient Boston by sharing this important information on Facebook and Twitter and taking the Pledge to Prepare.

This week, we are focusing on the Be Safe part of the campaign by highlighting ways you can be safe throughout an emergency. Below are tips and tricks to help you better understand your surroundings and keep essential emergency items like food and water safe. A resource list for accessing official information can also be found below. To learn more about National Preparedness Month and the “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign, visit our previous blog post.


An emergency such as a flood, fire, national disaster, or a loss of power can jeopardize your household’s safety. Understanding your surroundings and keeping your food and water safe will help you reduce the risk of injuries or illnesses during and after an emergency. Learning basic health skills and knowing how to access official information will help you make the right decisions for keeping you and your family safe during an emergency.

Understanding Your Surroundings

Before, during, and after an emergency it is important to understand your surroundings, whether you’re at home or in an unfamiliar place.

Home and Car Safety

  • Mold: Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma, and more illnesses. To remove mold, get rid of excess water or moisture around your home. Learn more here: English or Spanish.
  • Car Seats: When driving anywhere, make sure you know how to safely operate and lock a car seat to ensure the safety of children. Click here to learn more through Buckle Up Boston.
  • Window Screen Safety: Falls are the leading cause of injury to children ages five and under. It only takes seconds for a fall to occur, and they can cause serious injuries. Click here to learn more window fall prevention tips through Kids Can’t Fly.

Environmental Safety

  • Animals and Insects: Know how to create a safe, healthy environment for you and your loved ones by getting rid of disease-carrying insects and animals. Click here to learn more.
  • Flood Water: A flood can be caused by rainwater or sometimes sewage backups, which can damage gas and electric appliances, and cause fire or electrocutions. Click here to learn more about flood prevention and cleanup.


Keep Food & Water Safe

When the power goes out, your refrigerator and freezer will likely stop working, leaving your food unsafe to eat. Learn how to figure out if your food has expired or gone bad –click here for more information from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2010, a water pipe broke in Weston, MA, leaving the water in Boston unsafe to drink. Due to the unsafe drinking water, Boston residents were required to boil their water prior to using it. To make sure you and your family understand how to determine if your water is safe to use, click here.


Learn Basic Health Skills

Knowing basic health skills are important when you, or those around you, may be in need of immediate help. Learning the following skills will help prepare you to assist others in the event of a medical emergency until emergency medical services can arrive:

  • CPR Anytime: This new version of CPR provides 3 easy steps for anyone to use if someone around you collapses and may be in need of CPR. Click here to learn more.
  • General First Aid: Knowing how to provide immediate care in case of a cardiac, breathing, and first aid emergency can help you save a life. Click here to learn more and  find upcoming classes in the Boston area. If you are a student at a high school, university, or college, check if your school provides general first aid courses.

If you have an ongoing medical condition, it’s important to know some other basic health skills that can help you during an emergency. These skills include:

Prescription Safety

  • Ensure that medications requiring refrigeration are kept cold
  • Know how to properly and safely dispose of medications, including syringes –click here for more information.
  • Click here to learn more about prescription safety from the FDA
  • Click here to learn more about safely storing your medications around children

Home Medical Devices

  • Make sure to have extra battery power for any electronic medical devices that you or your loved ones use.


Access Official Information

Know how and where to access official information prior to, and during emergencies. Official information will come from Boston City Hall or any of the three public safety agencies (EMS, Fire, Police). Here’s a list of trusted sources to get you started:

  • ALERTBoston: Sign-up for ALERTBoston to receive emergency alerts from the City of Boston.
  • The City of Boston homepage will always have important information regarding emergencies as it becomes available.
  • Mayor’s  24-hour Constituent Services Hotline: Connect to city services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 617-635-4500. You can also access this service online or through their mobile  application – click here.
  • Mayor’s Health Line: Access this free and confidential information and referral phone service, open Monday-Friday from 9:00AM – 5:00PM ET, by calling 617-534-5050.
  • Twitter: Follow these Twitter accounts for additional resources and information:

For a more complete list of resources you can use to access official information, please click here.