Sheltering and Emergency Preparedness

The City of Waltham like all communities in Massachusetts has the risk of several natural and man-made disasters. Residents should take time to prepare and develop family plans well in advance for these events.

Natural and Man-Made Emergency Preparedness Topics:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornados
  • Severe Thunderstorms
  • Flooding
  • Blizzards
  • Earthquake
  • Fire
  • Hazardous Materials releases
  • Bombs
  • Utility Failures
    • Electric
    • Gas

Preparedness Links:

Stay Informed Local Media Links:

Weather Links:

Make a Plan
Plan in advance for what you will do in an emergency. MEMA suggests the following information all residents should follow in preparing for an emergency:

  • Create a Household Communications Plan. Since your family may not be together when an emergency occurs, it is important to know that everyone is okay. Designate an out-of-town contact for family members to call if separated during an emergency. Keep a list of important contact phone numbers. Consider using the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” website ( to locate family members and friends.
  • Have a predetermined family meeting location that the entire family knows.
  • Ensure that your plan incorporates the needs of specific family members such as seniors, children, or people with disabilities.
  • Create a Plan for Sheltering-in-Place. Sometimes sheltering-in-place is a recommended action. If instructed to do so, stay indoors, close windows and doors, and turn off heating or air conditioning systems that use outside air.
  • Create a Plan to Evacuate. Plan where you will go, how you will get there (methods and routes) and what you will bring (including your emergency kit). Not all shelters allow pets, so plan in advance what you would do with your pet if you had to evacuate.
  • Know the emergency plans of locations where your family might be (work, school, daycare) to understand what might happen during an emergency.

Build a Kit
Consider making two kits, one for sheltering-in-place and one for evacuating. An emergency kit is intended to provide you with the essential items you would need for at least three days. While some items, such as water, food, first aid kit, sanitation items and clothing should be in everyone’s kit, it is important to customize the kit for the needs of you and your family. Consider adding medications, children’s items, pet food and supplies, and any other items that your family might need. See the emergency kit checklist in this pamphlet for more ideas.

In case of an evacuation, you may want emergency supplies. If your emergency kit is too large to take with you, make a “go-bag,” which is a smaller, more mobile version of your emergency kit that you could take with you if you need to leave your house.

At least annually, check your kit for any food, water, batteries or other items that may need to be replaced or have expired.

Sheltering Info:
Sheltering may be necessary in a natural or man-made disaster.  Evacuations will be made based on incident conditions and projected forecasts.  Residents and visitors will be notified through using all or parts of the following emergency notifications methods:

  • Reverse 911 system
  • Social Media – Twitter/Facebook
  • Web-Site postings
  • PD/FD loudspeakers in areas needed
  • PD/FD personnel going door to door
  • Cable Access messaging
  • Local Media messaging
    • Waltham Patch
    • Daily News Tribune
    • WBZ Channel 4
    • WCVB Channel 5
    • WHDH Channel 7
    • WFXT Channel 25
    • NECN
    • 1030 AM Radio

Shelter Locations:
The need and scope of emergency sheltering will be determined as events unfold.  The City of Waltham will coordinate sheltering openings with the Red Cross who will assist in the management of any shelter opening and coordinate all services.

The City has identified several facilities to serve as a mass shelter in the event that a shelter is needed.  Based on size and anticipated duration the city has the following locations available:

  • Short term – small scale evacuation – Warming Center
    • – Bright School
  • Long term – Large scale evacuation – Shelters :
  1. High School
  2. Kennedy Middle School
  3. McDevitt Middle School
  4. Bentley University – Dana Center
  5. Brandeis University – Gossman Center

Sheltering In Place:
During an incident and particularly with a hazardous materials incident residents may be ordered to shelter in place.  Actions that are recommended to be taken in the event that a shelter in place order is given during an incident in which hazardous materials are released into the atmosphere include:

  • Everyone should stay inside the building (employees and customers)
  • Close all windows and doors
  • Shut all vents to the outside
  • Shut down any air handling equipment
  • Move everyone to an interior room with limited windows, if this is not possible move to the furthest point in the building away from the incident.

Helpful sheltering in place links: