Harborkeepers holds emergency preparedness workshop

Are you ready for a disaster, natural or otherwise?
Some people living in East Boston might say yes while a vast majority might say no.
Last week Harborkeepers Director Magdelena La Battaglia and Harborkeepers Heather O’Brien held a workshop for mothers at East Boston Headstart on Condor Street to start thinking of how to prepare for a disaster.
“We (Heather O’Brien and I) are prep nerds,” said La Battaglia, who is a self proclaimed expert at building emergency kits. “Every family should have an emergency kit ready. It is something I suggest you build little by little but give yourself a timeline that in two months I’ll have my kit ready.”
La Battaglia said Hurricane Sandy back in 2012 showed the world the need to be ready for a natural or unnatural disaster.
“Building these kits are important for the safety and well being of your family,” said O’Brien. “You have to think of all different scenarios. If there’s no water, I’m going to need access to fresh water. If the power is gone, I’m not going to be able to go to the ATM so I’m going to need cash on hand. If the electricity is gone, I’m going to need a flashlight. These are some of things you have to start thinking about to protect you and your families.”
Both La Battaglia and O’Brien said no one can predict when a disaster will strike, but being prepared can help ease the inconveniences of losing electricity, water and the other conveniences we usually take for granted.
“Things like flashlights, extra batteries, food, water, cash are all things you have to consider if you are going to be on your own during a disaster,” said O’Brien. “Think about it, if you don’t have water for an extended period of time, how are you going to keep your family clean, and hygienic until water is restored? These emergency kits should be filled with items like disinfectant wipes in order to keep you and your family clean and hygienic during an emergency. What if there’s no food and grocery stores are shut down for days? High protein and calorie-rich snacks like energy bars are a good and cheap way to feed your families during an emergency.”
La Battaglia and O’Brien also said these emergency kits, once built, should be placed in a safe spot near a door in case the emergency requires evacuation.
“A good place near the front door is ideal so you can grab and go,” said La Battaglia.
The event also included a presentation from Eastie District Fire Chief Chris Sloan on the importance of having fire extinguishers in every household.
“A lot of the houses in Eastie are old and when a fire gets into the walls of these homes, it gets bad, but fire extinguishers can put out quite a bit of fire,” said Sloan.
Sloan said residents should look for a multi-use extinguisher that can handle not only wood, paper and plastic fires, but fires caused by liquids like cooking grease, as well as electrical fires.
“One of the most important things with extinguishers is placement. It is not good enough to just have one you want to have it placed in an ideal spot,” said Sloan.
Sloan said a good spot is by a door.
“A lot of people put them next to their stoves,” said Sloan. “But now you have a grease fire and that extinguishers is behind the flames. The best place to put them is by a door so you can back away from the fire, get the extinguisher and there’s a clear pathway behind you to escape.”

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