The purpose of the SDG Connection blog series is to illustrate that communities of all sizes can use frameworks like the United Nations Sustainable Development Guidelines to assess their own sustainable development efforts. This month’s topic is community preparedness.
Be Prepared: Community Preparedness and Climate Impacts
Climate change has led to extreme weather events that profoundly impact our daily lives. As sea levels rise and temperatures change, we are faced with hazards like heavy flooding and extreme heat. These hazards adversely affect human health and safety, through threats such as stresses to public infrastructure and services and an increase in heat-related illness, which disproportionately affect already- vulnerable residents. Ensuring that communities are able to withstand and bounce back from these events is an important piece of our global sustainable development goals to ensure social and economic prosperity.
At a local level, Devens is already experiencing the effects of climate change from increased heat waves, intense storms, drought, and inland flooding. These climate hazards create lasting impacts for community residents and business, including infrastructure damage and power outages, roadway blockages, stress on local infrastructure and services, and increased health risks from higher temperatures and poor water and air quality. These impacts pose public health and safety emergencies, but the best way to combat them is to be prepared with the right resources and information in advance. Devens seeks to enhance the community' preparedness for climate emergencies while also improving public health through increasing access to healthy food and active lifestyles.
What is Devens Doing to Promote Community Preparedness?
Devens is prioritizing creating more prepared and healthy communities through:
- Deploying the Natural Disaster Response Team to respond quickly and lessen damage in the event of a natural disaster. The team—made up of local staff and volunteers—is sent out through the fire department and the emergency management director.
- Following guidelines in the Commonwealth of Massachussetts Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
- Developing a new LEED Silver certified Public Safety Building to consolidate public safety departments.
- Providing safety services through the Fire Department, such as Safety visits for senior citizens in Devens.
- Updating Devens’ pest and vector-borne disease management plan.
- Deploying Massachusetts Task Force 1, a specialized federal rescue organization, and the Disaster Medical Assistance Team for the state of Massachusetts for emergency response.
- Providing cooling and emergency shelter services at the Bob Eisengrein Community Center at 100 Sherman Ave should a crisis arise.
- Offering healthy food at The Devens Farmers Market and local trails, to make living healthier more accessible.
Read more about what Devens is doing to reduce climate change while promoting health and economic development in our Devens Forward Action Plan.
What Can Businesses and Residents do to Make an Impact?
- Sign up for CodeRed, Devens's emergency notification system.
- Make a preparedness kit to help ensure your home or business is ready for any emergency. Don’t forget your pets!
- Look into signing up for First aid and CPR classes for your business through the Devens Fire Department or organizations like the Red Cross.
- Stay up to date with the Devens Fire Department.
- Make healthy eating a priority. Take advantage of the local farmers’ market or partner with local farms or food vendors to provide healthy, local food to your employees.
- Create a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for your business with the help of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.