Methuen Emergency Management

Emergency Management Agency
24 Lowell Street Methuen, Massachusetts 01844
Phone (978) 794-3252 Fax (978) 691-5056

What to do in an emergency

Emergencies happen more often than you might think.


In an emergency, its essential for for you to know what to do.

This space, on Methuen's Web Page, is dedicated to outlining some general precautions and safety meausures you should learn in the event of a particular emergency.The time to find out what to do in an emergency is BEFORE IT HAPPENS.


What watches, warnings mean.

The National Weather Service uses the terms "watches" and "warnings" to alert the public to potentially dangerous weather. Knowing the difference between the two can be a life saver.

A watch.

A watch means conditions are right for dangerous weather. For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening. For longer-lived events, such as hurricanes or winter storms, a watch means that the storm isn't an immediate threat. For both types, a watch means you should keep up with the weather and be ready to act. When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should watch the sky for signs of dangerous weather. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, a tornado or a flash flood happens so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time. Many areas don't have civil-defense sirens or other warning methods. People who live near streams that quickly reach flood levels should be ready to flee at the first signs of a flash flood.

Hurricane or winter storm watches mean it's time to prepare by stocking up on emergency supplies and making sure you know what to do if a warning is issued. For those who live near the ocean, a hurricane watch may mean it's time to prepare for evacuation.

A warning.

A warning means that the dangerous weather is threatening the area. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the event is occurring. Since tornadoes are small - a half-mile wide tornado is considered huge - a tornado will miss many more buildings that it hits in the area warned. Still, a tornado warning means be ready to take shelter immediately if there are any indications a tornado is approaching. Severe thunderstorms are larger, maybe 10 or 15 miles across. Still, their strong winds or large hail will hit only a small part of the area warned. A hurricane warning means either evacuate or move to safe shelter. A winter storm warning means not to venture out. If traveling, head for the nearest shelter.

How alerts are issued.

Before watches and warnings are issued, the National Weather Service, private forecasters, newspapers, radio and television normally try to alert the public to potential weather dangers. Often, forecasters begin issuing bulletins on hurricanes and winter storms three or four days before the storm hits. Forecasters can't issue alerts for the danger of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods that far ahead. Usually, the National Weather Service's Severe Storms Forecast Center sends out alerts the day before dangerous weather is likely. Most television weathercasters highlight these alerts on the evening news the day before threatening weather.

A weather radio is one of the best ways to stay tuned-in to dangerous weather. These radios receive broadcasts from special National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio stations. NOAA is the federal agency that includes the National Weather Service. The broadcasts are from Weather Service offices.

Broadcasts include ordinary forecasts of several kinds, including for boating, farming, traveling, and outdoor recreation as well as general forecasts for the area. The stations immediately broadcast all watches and warnings. Some weather radios have a feature that turn on the radio automatically when a watch or warning is broadcast. Such "tone alert" weather radios are highly recommended for places where large numbers of people could be endangered by tornadoes or flash floods. These include schools, nursing homes, shopping center security offices, hospitals, and recreation areas such as swimming pools. A National Weather Service World Wide Web page has information on weather radio, including a list of weather radio stations in each state.

What to do when threatened.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has an extensive Web site with more than 500 pages. Information is available on preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme heat, and many more. FEMA also provides information regarding insurance and how to apply for federal assistance.

USA TODAY's online index to information on how to cope with natural disasters has links to several other Web sites with useful information.

ITS A THUNDERSTORM Don't Panic! Do Take Precautions
If you're outside get into a Don't touch metal objects such
building, car or bus. as bicycles, fences, golf clubs
In a forest, pick a low area certain appliances.
under thick small trees. Don't go near trees, poles, hills,
If swimming or boating get out clotheslines, overhead wires,
of the water inmediately. metal pipes, water.
If in an open area, head for low Don't congregate with other
ground such as a valley or people- spread out.
ravine, or crouch down. Don't use the telephone except
in an emergency.

Worst Place in a thunderstorm: Standing under a tree on a hill

Note: Any time you're traveling by car and you encounter downed power lines, don't get out of the car or attempt to drive close to the wires.


Methuen Fire Department
Emergency ...................................................... 911