Organizing Your Community for Disaster Preparedness

Many people work on emergency preparedness in their own homes—having freeze-dried food, water storage, and emergency supplies. Some people put together entire disaster preparedness kits and plans, which is all fine and well. Nevertheless, suppose a person is well prepared in their own home, but their neighbors aren’t. On whose door will those unprepared neighbors be knocking for help? Hmm… let’s guess.

When that disaster does strike, whether it’s a tornado, flood, earthquake, or fire, this is the time to come together as a community. The word needs to be spread that a storm is coming, streets need to be sandbagged, a fire needs to be put out, or debris needs to be cleaned up – this is when we need each other as a neighborhood, especially when communication is down.

So, how do we get our community involved in disaster preparedness?

  • Spread the word– Organize your own home for a disaster, have a family emergency plan, and then spread the word to neighbors, friends, and family. County/city meetings, community events, church gatherings, and recreational activities are great opportunities to educate others on disaster awareness. Community organizations, like Citizen Corps Councils, are available nationwide and help develop community emergency plans that include outreach, education, and emergency training. Like many other community groups, Citizen Corps Councils encourages volunteerism and offers aid during an actual disaster.
  • Practice the plan– Have mock disaster drills to ensure that each community member knows where to go, who to look for, and what to do when a natural disaster strikes.
  • Set goals– Once part of a community group, be sure to set preparedness goals. Our communities should be able to survive for three days on their own and have the necessary evacuation and shelter plans to do so. Set goals for each time you meet. For example, set a goal that everyone will bring five food storage recipes to the next meeting. Then next week, exchange information and set a new goal like assembling a 72-hour kit. You could even assemble the kits at your meeting or try out some of the recipes that were suggested.

In addition to our neighborhood, our workplaces should also be prepared, trained, and ready. We can encourage our employers to take steps toward preparing emergency essentials the same way we do with our community. The more our neighbors are prepared, the more we are prepared.

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