Weather Emergency Information
Regardless of what this winter may have in store for us, we can be certain that snow, ice and cold temperatures will have impacts on Natick at times. Use this Winter Emergency page, to help you and your families stay safe during winter weather.
Take the time to prepare your family, home, vehicles and driving habits for everything from a dusting of snow or thin glaze of ice to a major winter storm!
Winter Weather Terms
The National Weather Service uses the terms below to convey the weather threat to the public. It's important to understand the difference between these warnings so you know what to do to stay safe.
Winter Storm Watch - Indicates severe winter weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible within the next day or two. Be prepared!
Winter Storm Warning - Indicates heavy snow, heavy sleet, or a combination of winter weather hazards are highly likely or occurring. 6” of snow or more in a 12-hour period (or 8” of snow or more in a 24-hour period) expected within next 12 to 36 hours. Stay indoors and adjust travel plans.
Ice Storm Warning - Heavy accumulations of ice (½ inch or more of freezing rain) will create extremely dangerous travel conditions, damage trees and likely cause extended power outages.
Blizzard Warning - Strong winds of 35 mph or greater will produce blinding snow and near zero visibility, resulting in potentially life-threatening conditions, especially for travelers. Blizzard conditions can occur with minimal accumulations of snow.
Winter Weather Advisory - Indicates snow accumulation of 2 to 5 inches or a combination of winter weather conditions which may cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to travelers. Use caution if you venture out!
Freezing Rain Advisory - Light accumulations of ice will cause hazardous travel.
Wind Chill Advisory - Dangerous wind chills of minus 15 degrees to minus 24 degrees.
Receiving advance warnings for severe weather, timely emergency alerts, and information during a disaster is critical to staying safe during an emergency. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts, including at least one with an audible alert to wake you in the middle of the night.
Natick's Emergency Alert System (CodeRed) - The CodeRED Mobile Alert safety app delivers real-time emergency, community, missing person and severe weather alerts to users within the exact area of impact. Alerts are initiated by public safety officials who use theCodeRED community notification system to effectively alert and inform residents to save lives. Register now!
Stay connected with Natick's Social Media accounts - Town of Natick's Facebook page and Natick Twitter account.
Natick's Care and Prepare Program - This is a the next step to Natick's CodeRed system and should be used by residents needing more than a phone or text alert. Residents that have limited mobility, any resident in your home that relies on electricity for medical equipment or anyone with special needs need to register for this program.
Massachusetts Alerts Smartphone App - The free Massachusetts Alerts app provides emergency notifications and public safety information based on your location, proximity to an event or incident, and the preferences you select.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) - The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program is part of the EAS national alerting initiative, which enables cellphones to receive alerts for severe weather emergencies, imminent threats to life or property, AMBER alerts, and Presidential alerts.
2-1-1 Hotline - During times of emergency, 2-1-1 is the Commonwealth’s primary telephone information call center. Call 2-1-1 to get answers to questions about the location of open shelters, information about transportation or other restrictions due to a declared state of emergency, post disaster assistance, reporting a damaged property, ways to volunteer or donate, or other services you or your family may need. Mass 2-1-1 is a 24/7 resource to connect callers to information about critical health and human services programs.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Alerts - Register to receive MBTA alerts to your phone and/or email address or download the MBTA mobile app from their App Showcase.
Winterize your home to extend your fuel supply:
- Insulate walls and attics.
- Caulk and weatherize doors and windows.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
Take steps to prevent frozen water pipes:
- Locate and insulate the pipes most susceptible to freezing; typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
- Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
- Make sure you know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst.
- Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel. After a severe winter storm, regular fuel carriers may not reach you for days.
- Have emergency heating equipment (fireplaces, wood burning stoves or space heaters) and ample fuel so you can keep at least one room of your house warm. Always ensure proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- NEVER use an outdoor grill to heat your home or to cook food indoors.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure your family knows how to use them.
- Winterize your vehicle or have your vehicle serviced by a reputable dealer, garage or mechanic.
- Check your wipers, tires, lights and fluid levels regularly. Make sure the brakes and transmission are working properly. Lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing.
- Prepare a Winter Storm Survival Kit and carry it in your vehicle. A kit is important even for short trips. If you have an accident or vehicle breakdown, you may be waiting several hours for assistance to arrive. See below for “Winter Storm Survival Kit for Travelers.”
When an emergency or disaster occurs, will you be ready? It is critical that you create a family disaster plan to keep you and your family safe, protect your property, and build your community’s resilience. Develop a plan with the members of your household to prepare for what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate in an emergency. Be sure your plan addresses the special and/or medical needs for you and your family.
Establish Meeting Locations
Select two family meeting locations where your family can reunite after a disaster.
- Choose one close to home
- Second farther away, in case you are asked to evacuate or can’t return to the area
Develop an Emergency Contact Plan
Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as your family’s emergency contact. After a disaster, it is sometimes easier to call long distance to unaffected areas.
- Provide every family member with the name, address, and phone number of the emergency contact and make sure each family member has a cellphone or a prepaid phone card.
- Inform your emergency contact of any family member’s special needs or medical issues.
List emergency contacts in cellphones as “ICE” (in case of emergency), which will make it easier for emergency management personnel to contact the right person in case of an emergency res-ponder needs to make a call on your behalf.
Identify alternate communications methods:
- Show all family members how to text message, as it may be easier to send a text than make a call during an emergency.
- Learn how to use social media, which can be an effective tool to let friends and family know your location and status.
- The American Red Cross you can use Safe and Well service to register yourself as “safe and well” or search for loved ones after a disaster.
Learn How to Receive Emergency Alerts and Information
Receiving advance warnings for severe weather, timely emergency alerts, and information during a disaster (see above) is critical to staying safe during an emergency. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts, including at least one with an audible alert to wake you in the middle of the night.
You will need to teach family members how to use the text messaging if they don't do this regularly. Keep in mind text messages can often work even when there is network disruptions or congestion when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Plan How to Evacuate
- Identify and practice how you will exit your home.
- Establish possible evacuation routes to ensure you are able to get to your designated meeting location(s)
- Identify available modes of transportation.
- Make arrangements with family, neighbors, friends, or local government if you don’t have personal transportation.
- If you need assistance, contact your local public safety official to make them aware of your needs.
Consider Everyone's Needs
- Plan for everyone in your household, including individuals with access and functional needs, seniors, children, and pets.
- If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional need, you may need to take additional steps to prepare yourself and your family.
- Pets are important members of many households, and like people, they are affected by disasters. Include your pets and animals in your emergency plans.
- Practice your emergency plan at least 2-3 times a year with all members of your family.
- To practice your plan, test your emergency communications plan, assemble at your meeting locations and practice your evacuation routes.
- Update your plan with any changes, if necessary, after you practice
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans that are in place at your workplace, children's school or daycare, or other places where your family spends time.
- If no plans exist at these places, consider volunteering to help develop one. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead, and communicate with others in advance.