Off. Stephen Sargent is the Groveland Emergency Management Director. Contact him if you have any questions or concerns or call 978-521-1212 anytime.
Merrimack Valley Region Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan
Residents urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites
BOSTON – August 16, 2016 – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The patient is a resident of Middlesex County in her 70’s who was diagnosed with WNV through testing completed today by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory. The patient remains hospitalized.
DPH is conducting an epidemiological investigation to determine where the individual was most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes. Assessment of WNV risk areas will depend on the findings of this investigation.
“This is peak season in Massachusetts for possible West Nile virus infection in humans,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “The high temperatures and drought conditions that we’ve seen are resulting in elevated populations of the type of mosquitoes that are most likely to spread WNV. That’s why it is more important than ever to take steps to avoid mosquito bites by using repellents, covering up to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water around the house and moving indoors at dusk when mosquito activity reaches its peak.”
In 2015, there were ten human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)], or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitos to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitos outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitos near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitos. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
Important Information for Homeowners and Boat Owners
Throughout this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is reminding homeowners of steps they can take to protect their property from the strong winds, damaging rains, and flooding that hurricanes or tropical storms can bring to New England.
“There are steps we all can take to make our homes and property more storm resistant,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Early planning and pre-storm preparation can reduce injuries and the extent of property damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.”
Developing a plan to protect your property during a tropical storm or hurricane starts with understanding the hurricane risks for your area. If you reside in or near a coastal community, determine whether your home is in a designated hurricane evacuation zone by using the ‘Know Your Evacuation Zone’ interactive map which is located on MEMA’s website at
Additionally, contact your municipal emergency management agency or other local officials to learn about the risks of hurricane-related coastal flooding and wind damage in your community.
If your home is at risk of flooding, whether from coastal storm surge or inland flooding from heavy rains associated with tropical storms or hurricanes, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 to learn more about flood risks, flood maps, flood zones, and flood insurance. Consider buying flood insurance, even if your property is not in a flood zone. Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
Homeowners in coastal communities can learn how to prepare their homes for hurricanes and other coastal hazards by reading the MA Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards which is located on MEMA’s website at
Homeowners should consider taking the following steps to prepare their property for the next tropical storm or hurricane:
- For insurance purposes, make a record of your personal property. Take photos or videos of the interior and exterior of your home and of your personal belongings. Keep an itemized list of your furniture, clothing and valuables to assist insurance adjusters in case you need to file a claim.
- Protect your insurance policies and other important documents in a secure place like a safe deposit box or a watertight box. Many people back up important documents online.
- Keep trees and shrubbery around your home trimmed. Remove diseased or damaged tree limbs that could be blown down, causing damage, during a storm.
- Clear clogged rain gutters. Hurricanes and tropical storms often bring torrential rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
- Make sure storage sheds, children’s playhouses and other outside structures are securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors.
- Make temporary plywood covers to protect windows and sliding doors. Drill holes for screws or lag bolts in each cover and around each window. To save time, use a numbering or lettering system that shows which cover goes with which window. Store the mounting screws or lag bolts with the covers in a place where they are readily accessible. Taping of windows does not prevent them from breaking.
- Make a list of outdoor items to bring inside in case of a storm, such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys, and awnings. A list will help you more quickly identify anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds and used as a projectile.
- Learn where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.
- Consider installing a generator in case of a power outage, and remember that generators must be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas.
- Lock doors and windows during a storm to ensure that they are closed tight to help protect against strong winds and rain.
The storm surge, high winds, and heavy rainfall associated with tropical storms and hurricanes also pose a significant risk to boats, docks and marine infrastructure along the coast. Boat owners in Massachusetts are reminded that preparing for the next storm will reduce damage to their vessels, docks and other marine infrastructure and may reduce the risk of legal liability for damages their boats may cause.
- Monitor the latest weather forecast for your boating area from local and national weather services.
- Decide what you will do with your boat in a storm including where and when you will move it.
- Make a record of your personal property by taking photos or videos of your boat and all valuable items in and on your boat. Store these records in a safe place.
- Review the boat’s insurance policy to determine your coverage and liability.
- Keep important paperwork in a secure place away from the boat. This can include insurance policies, boat registrations, a recent photograph and description of the vessel, gear inventory, marina or storage lease agreements, and important telephone numbers.
- Discuss storm plans with your harbormaster or local marina to learn about procedures and resources before a storm approaches.
- Boat owners should remove their vessels from the water before a storm, if possible. Move the boat away from areas that may have storm surge.
- Double-up all dock lines and chains, and ensure they are long enough to compensate for elevated sea levels.
- Make the vessel as watertight as possible. Use duct tape and plugs to seal hatches, ports, windows, doors, and vents.
- Remove all electronics, valuables, and other non-essential items. When a tropical storm or hurricane is forecast, remove detachable items such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios, and antennae.
- Lash down everything that cannot be removed, including booms, tillers, and wheels.
- Deflate dinghies and store them (with their outboard motors) off of the boat.
- Help other boaters secure their vessels. It only takes one poorly tied boat in a marina to destroy an entire dock.
- If a boat is on a trailer, lash it securely. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of the tires, and weigh down the frame.
- Do not stay on your boat during a storm! The financial and sentimental value of the craft is not worth risking a life.
For additional information about MEMA and Hurricane Preparedness, go to https://www.mass.gov/mema
MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA’s staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – individuals, families, non-profits and businesses – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover.
Massachusetts Alerts: To receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: https://www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp
MEMA Offers Tips to Help Keep Massachusetts Families Safe
FRAMINGHAM, MA – A winter storm in New England can range from a moderate snowfall over a few hours to a chilling Nor’easter, bringing blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow that lasts several days. People can become stranded in their automobiles or trapped at home, without utilities or other services. The aftermath of a winter storm can have an impact on a community or the entire region for days, weeks or even months. Storm effects, in New England, include large snow accumulation, extremely cold temperatures, heavy, wet snow or icing on trees and powerlines, roof collapses, coastal flooding and beach erosion.
Winter storms are also deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the actual storm. The major causes are automobile or other transportation accidents, exhaustion and heart attacks caused by overexertion, ‘freezing to death’ and asphyxiation from improper heating sources.
House fires occur more frequently in the winter due to lack of proper safety precautions when using alternate heating sources, like unattended fires and space heaters. “As with most potential disasters, preparedness, monitoring the Media and common sense can minimize the danger to you and your family,” states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz. “That is why MEMA is sharing important winter safety information through the Media and the MEMA website over the next few weeks.” Areas to be covered in this series will include the proper steps to take to prepare your family and home for the winter season, automobile and driving safety, ice safety, protecting your pets, responding to power outages, extreme temperatures, roof collapse and recovering from a winter storm.
Those who already have an All-Hazard Emergency Supply Kit, as MEMA continues to recommend, are ahead of the curve. However, it is important to check your kit, to ensure it is properly stocked with enough supplies to survive on your own for at least three to five days. Now is also the time to review for Family Communication Plan.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries
- Charged cell phone
- First-aid kit
- Essential prescription medicines
- Non-perishable Food
- Manual can opener
- Water (one gallon per person/per day)
- Baby items
- Extra Blankets and sleeping bags
- Fire Extinguisher
Develop a ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’ in case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), and have a plan for getting back together.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the ‘family contact’. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance than across town. Also, calling outside the area will probably be easier than calling into a disaster area.
- Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the contact person.
- Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of town. Decide on an alternate meeting area for family members.
Become aware of your community’s Emergency Plans, available through your local Emergency Management Director.
- Be familiar with the Emergency Plans at your children’s school and your workplace.
- Be aware of the location of your community’s emergency notification systems, potential emergency shelters and possible evacuation routes.
These steps can help reassure everyone’s safety and minimize the stress associated with emergencies. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made.
For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to the MEMA website at www.mass.gov/mema.Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Protecting Your Family and Home FRAMINGHAM, MA – “Before snow, ice and severe winter weather hit the region, it is important that you take the proper steps to ensure the safety of your family and home,” states Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt Schwartz.
- Understand the winter terminology used by weather forecasters:
1. Winter Storm Watch – Be alert, a storm is likely.2. Winter Storm Warning – Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.3. Blizzard Warning – Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately.4. Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.5. Frost/Freeze Warning – Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops or fruit trees.
- Trim dead tree branches and limbs close to your home. Ice, snow and wind can combine to snap limbs that can take down power lines or damage your home.
- Clean gutters. Melting snow and ice can build up if gutters are clogged with debris. When thawing begins, the water can back up under your roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
- Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.
- Have your chimney flue checked for any buildup of creosote and cleaned if necessary to lessen the risk of fire.
- Have sufficient heating fuel, as regular sources may be cut off. Have the option of emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can safely keep at least one room livable. Be sure the room is well ventilated.
- Ensure that your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are working correctly and have fresh batteries. Check your outside fuel exhaust vents, making sure that they are not obstructed by snow or ice. Never use cooking equipment intended for outside use indoors as a heat source or cooking device.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
- To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
- Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
- If your water supply could be affected by a power outage (a well-water pump system), be prepared to fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet.
- If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.
- If electric power is lost, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed). If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.
- Review the process for manually operating your electric garage door.
- Ensure your Winter Emergency Supply Kit is stocked with supplies to enable you to survive on your own for at least three to five days. There should be a first-aid kit, essential prescription medicines, non-perishable foods (those that require no refrigeration such as canned goods, dried fruits and nuts), a manual can opener, water (one gallon per person, per day), flashlights and extra batteries along with a portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio, baby-care or pet supplies items, extra blankets, sleeping bags and a fire extinguisher.
- Ensure that your Winter Emergency Car Kit is well stocked to keep you and your vehicle safe.
- Be a Good Neighbor. Check with elderly or relatives and neighbors who might need additional assistance to ensure they have made adequate preparations.
Tips to Prepare Your Car for the Season FRAMINGHAM, MA – The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has issued information to help people prepare for another New England Winter Season. Attached is a list of Automobile Safety Tips and a list of items to be included in your Winter Emergency Car Kit. “Since approximately 70% of winter deaths related to snow and ice occur in automobiles, now is the proper time for individuals and families to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety on the roads during the upcoming Winter Season,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Winter weather can present challenges that can be made easier with some basic planning.”
AUTOMOBILE SAFETY TIPS
- Have a well-stocked Winter Emergency Car Kit.
- Keep your gas tank at least half-full.
- Install good winter tires with adequate tread and pressure.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Keep all windows clear of snow and ice and keep your headlights and taillights clear, as well.
- Check your antifreeze, battery, windshield wipers and wiper fluid.
- Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. Consider Public Transportation.
- Let others know your timetable and primary and alternate routes. Allow extra time. The first ” of snow is sometimes the most slippery. Allow adequate braking distance from the car in front of you.
- Slow down. Many times hazards like black ice are not seen until it is too late. Remember bridges and overpasses can freeze up sooner than roadways.
- Be extra alert. Snowdrifts can hide children or other vehicles.
- Yield to snowplows giving them plenty of room to safely do their job. Be patient and follow at a safe distance.
- Travel during daylight hours, and if possible, take another person with you.
- If a blizzard traps you in your car, pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a brightly colored distress flag/cloth from your radio antenna or window.
- Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are more likely to find you. Do not set out on foot, unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, crack open the window slightly for ventilation. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
- Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers.
- Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
- Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electricity energy needs: the use of lights, heat and radio.
- At night, turn on the inside dome light so work crews and rescuers can see you.
- After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Charged cell phone/automobile charger
- Basic first-aid kit
- Necessary medications
- Pocket knife
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Extra clothes (include rain gear, boots, mittens, socks)
- High-calorie, non-perishable foods (dried fruits, nuts, canned food)
- Manual can opener
- Container of water
- Windshield scraper & brush
- Fire extinguisher
- Sand/road salt/cat litter for generating traction
- Tire chains or traction mats
- Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Tow rope
- Battery jumper cables
- Road flares/reflectors
- Brightly colored cloth to utilize as a flag
- Road maps