You may not agree with your immediate neighbors’ politics. You might even have difficulty in communicating with them if they have a different cultural background or first language. But, make no mistake, your lives will become intertwined in an emergency. And, in fact, because you live in close proximity to one another your lives may depend on each others’ capabilities and preparations in a disaster situation.
Whether you live in an upscale neighborhood, in an apartment or condominium complex or manufactured home community, the issues following a major earthquake or similar disaster are the same.
First things first – Is everybody safe?
Your first challenge if structures are severely damaged will be search and rescue . . . is everybody safe and accounted for? You won’t be able to answer this question unless you know who lives in the neighborhood — who’s likely to be home at the time of the incident, where in the home they are likely to be. In the Japan tsunami it was neighbors who saved neighbors. Income levels and social standing made absolutely no difference. Neighborhood knowledge was the key to getting to people in trouble and getting them out.
Next, and quickly – Avoid more damage!
What are the immediate dangers . . . falling debris, fire, natural gas leak, etc.?
You help your neighbors because they are the closest people to you. Your natural instinct is to help them survive. And, of course, their dangers are yours and visa versa. If, for example, their home is leaking natural gas, you and your home (or what’s left of it) will be just as vulnerable as theirs is. Once again, the more you know about your neighborhood — about building structures, about hidden pipelines or power lines, about water lines and the location of fire hydrants — the better able you’ll be to avoid more damage.
Organize your neighborhood for best results.
If either (or both you and your neighbors) have had some Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training, you will be more likely to survive and be of effective help to each other and your other neighbors. We hope to direct you to basic training, on-going practice and new resources. We have had years of experience getting our neighbors interested and now engaged, with over 100 of them actively participating in our community program.
It hasn’t been easy, but now that it’s deverloped … we trust each other more and feel we’ll be in a lot better circumstances when “the big one” hits. For specific ideas on neighborhood training, check the various Advisories under “Neighborhood” in the Build Your Survival Skills section on this page. We also have a new section where we highlight Neighborhood Purchases of Serious Survival Equipment, with comments and recommendations.
Questions or comments regarding neighborhood organizing? Contact us today! We’d love to share what we know, and hear what you’ve done!
Joe Krueger and Virginia Nicols
The Emergency Plan Guide Team