Posts Tagged ‘CERT’


New Threats Emerging

Friday, December 15th, 2017
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What 2018 is looking like for Emergency Plan Guide

Wet FloorThe Emergency Plan Guide website has been up since 2011. Its main objective has stayed the same since those first days: to help people understand disaster realities and be better prepared to face them.

Three realities continue to sustain the site.

(If you’ve been with us for a while, this will be mighty familiar!)

  1. Emergency Preparedness isn’t top of mind for anybody. When asked, people say they want to be ready – they just don’t think about it on any regular basis. That’s why we came up with the idea of weekly Advisories, filled with tips and reminders. Since 2011 we’ve written hundreds, covering dozens of different topics. (Right now I count 297 in the list of Archives. A number of older Advisories have been retired, and several are being reworked.) People keep subscribing, so the Advisories will keep on coming!
  2. Family preparedness is one thing, workplace preparedness is another. You’ll see that we address both on a regular basis. We also address a third aspect of preparedness that very few other websites even mention – the importance of community and the value of working together as a group to prevent or make it through a disaster. Much of this planning is based on CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training.
  3. Authorities do their best, but . . . Police and fire departments, local and federal government and non-profit agencies may not arrive for hours, days or even weeks after a disaster hits. We hear about new instances of delay, and we use them to keep reminding our readers that no one is coming to save them – it’s up to us.

OK, that’s three of the core beliefs that drive us. What drives YOU to work on being prepared? What threats are keeping you up at night? Keep reading, please.

Seven trends will be guiding our plans for 2018.

Some of these trends have been around for a while, but have pushed themselves to the top of the heap, demanding more attention.

  1. Technology changes faster and faster. Five years ago we might have written about how to use a compass and a map; today we write about personal locator devices (GPS) that will direct rescuers right to you! Smart phones have become THE primary tool in every survival situation; in the past several months solar rechargers have supplanted batteries as the best way to keep devices functioning. At the same time, more technology also means more security risks. Watch for an upcoming series on hacking threats to your home from the internet.
  2. There’s a new normal for natural disasters. In Texas, three 500-year floods occurred in the last three years! In California, three years of historic drought have been followed by the “most destructive wildfire season ever.” Some areas in the world – like Florida – are “hot spots” where sea level rise is 6 times faster than average. Add “normal” emergencies to these locations and it becomes a nightmare. Shelter in place doesn’t work well for these disasters, so watch for more info on how to prepare for evacuation.
  3. Deliberate cutbacks threaten (FEMA). Proposed budgets, not yet passed, aim at cutting federal emergency funding by nearly $1 billion! Local budgets are cutting police and fire department funding. This leaves citizens on their own more than ever before. We have three books on the drawing boards to strengthen citizen response; the first one should be coming out before the end of this year.
  4. Terrorist threats and hate crimes continue. ISIS may have lost its caliphate, but U.S. home-grown terrorists are alive and well. And hate crimes have risen in the U.S. for the second straight year. I guess we can’t change people’s minds about religion or ethnicity – but we can talk about how to spot a potential crime and what to do when you do. And we will keep talking about steps communities can take to increase safety. (Did you know that after the shooting at Sandy Hook, Connecticut passed new requirements and made money available to improve school safety, but barely 25% of schools are reporting that they have even held fire drills, much less hardened facilities or practiced lockdown drills!?)
  5. Risk of nuclear war reemerges after 3 decades. Almost impossible to contemplate. As older Americans, we remember the drills of the 50s. Watch for more as we struggle to consider the realities of this threat.
  6. Most people cannot retreat to the wilds and live off the land. The last census in 2010 showed 80% of the U.S. population living in “urban areas.” Here in California, that percentage was 95%! Today those urban percentages are only higher. What this means is rural lifestyle, which fosters self-sufficiency and encourages learning and practicing wilderness survival skills, is simply not available to most of us. Yes, we can enjoy learning more of these skills, but a plan to “bug out” to the wilderness is unrealistic. We will address more urban survival skills.
  7. We all face more distractions. Driving, devices, politics, health, family — it’s hard to be clear about objectives, much less to follow through. People are also reading less and less — the average American spends only 19 minutes a day reading! These facts have led us to turn more Advisories into quick read worksheets and skimmable checklists – and almost always, a Call to Action! (Nothing like having a background in direct marketing and advertising.)

Now, when it comes to emergency preparedness, what’s on YOUR mind?

When you sign up to receive our weekly Advisories, I get the chance to see the town your message is coming from. But that’s all I know about you!

Occasionally, people write in with a comment or question, and then we are able to begin a real conversation. (I like that a lot!)

After all, I’m researching and sharing information that I trust will be useful. If it’s not – well, it’s a waste of your time and mine.

So . . .here’s that Call to Action.

Can you please take a moment and send me a quick message with some trends or some topics YOU would like to discuss? I can promise I’ll respond!  (I’ll keep your name private, of course.)

Here’s the link:  Virginia, here’s what’s on my mind . . .

Thanks for being a part of our community. The more we all know, the safer we all will be.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

Expand your thinking with some NEW IDEAS

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
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New Ideas

Real preparedness extends beyond the walls of our homes.

We spend a lot of time at Emergency Plan Guide examining the best supplies to lay in, and how to select the right emergency tools. Last week we reviewed in detail individual or family survival kits, and everything that needs to go into the best ones.

Yes, focusing closely on our immediate needs is a good idea.

But from time to time we need take a wider look around.  Joe and I often do this at our monthly team meetings.

This week’s Advisory could become a great topic for YOUR next meeting. At the very least, it will broaden your personal horizons!

Here are 7 news headlines to inspire NEUE IDEEN! (That’s German for “New Ideas!”)

For each headline, I’ve added a brief comment and then posed questions for you or your group to follow up with.

You know our favorite saying: “The more we all know, the safer we all will be.” Well, I hope these questions inspire a new level of knowledge – and safety!

1-“Fayetteville NC works on downtown evacuation plan in case of emergency on train tracks.”

It turns out Fayetteville has train tracks running right through the town. And the city doesn’t know exactly what those trains may be carrying. Since they have experienced more than one terrible train wreck, it seems to make sense to prepare for the next.

Questions: Do you have nearby train tracks? Do you know what’s being carried on them, and at what time of day? Perhaps more pertinent, do your city’s First Responders know this information? Find out! (Hint. It may be impossible . . . but whatever you can do will move the ball forward for your community.)

2-“Everett WA Graduates First Ever All Spanish Speaking Only CERT Class In Washington”

When the disaster hits, everyone will be pretty much in the same boat. Think of how much safer you’ll feel – and how much safer you’ll BE – when neighbors pitch in as a coordinated team!

Questions: Does your city put on CERT classes in another language? If not, what language/s should they consider? How could you or your group make that happen? (Think about reaching out to work sites, churches, private schools.)

3-“Florida’s 3,200 assisted living facilities and 640 nursing homes were ordered, by this week, to submit emergency plans that include enough generator power to run air conditioning . . .”

You surely heard about the 14 people who died in Florida during the aftermath of Irma. You may not have heard that nearly 2,000 facilities in FL haven’t yet complied with the order.

Questions: Do you have elderly relatives? Any in nursing facilities? What is that facility’s requirement for an emergency plan? What are your city’s requirements when it comes to emergency and/or evacuation plans for facilities of this sort? Can you bring pressure to bear if it appears to be necessary?

4-“The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency will begin testing its Attack Warning Signal or ‘Wailing Tone’ next month as they continue preparedness for attack from North Korea..”

Whether you live on the West Coast, the East Coast or in the middle of the country, a nuclear disaster is a frightening thought. It doesn’t have to be the result of war; it could just as well be the result of a natural disaster or even an accident at an aged facility.

Questions: Are there nuclear power plants anywhere near you? How old are they and what kind of maintenance do they receive and/or report on? What sort of warning signals do they have? (Have you ever heard one?) What’s the evacuation procedure for your home, your town? (Important: Sometimes the evacuation zones of plants overlap, which could make one or both of the individual plans inadequate.)

5-“Amid wildfire risk in Bay Area, UC Berkeley’s emergency management office to lose 50 percent of its staff…

This isn’t the only headline I’ve come across on the topic of staffing. Communities and their budgets change, often without much warning. If emergency management funds are cut, the quality of response to emergencies will decline.

Questions: Does your city have an Office of Emergency Management? An Emergency Operations Plan? Who heads up the department right now? What are the leader’s qualifications? What does the future for the department look like? What role can your local neighborhood group play in community preparedness? (Maybe you can get that department leader to be a guest speaker at one of your local meetings?)

Ask these same questions about the place where you work!

6-“JOHNSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS — The owners of C&H Hog Farms and the international corporation that supplies the operation’s swine are planning to apply for a permit to operate another farm, this one in a flood-prone area just south of Hartman.”

We heard just a couple of months ago about how unrestricted development added to the flooding tragedy in Houston. We all remember from 2014 the massive landslide that swept away an entire town in Washington – a town built below a hillside with a well-known history of slides.

Questions: What’s the status of your home and your community with regard to flood plains and/or past flooding? Has it been the victim of wildfires? What about hurricanes and/or tornados?

A developer, real estate agent and/or insurance agent may not be eager to share the history of the locale. In fact, they may not know it!

As a homeowner, you need to know this information. As a member of the wider community, you want everyone to know and be prepared to the extent possible.  What plans does the city have for growth and new development?  You CAN find out . . . and maybe keep ill-advised development from taking place.

7-PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — State health officials are encouraging people with special health care needs to enroll in an emergency registry.

In a widespread emergency, people with special needs will be most vulnerable. But they’ll not get the help they need if people don’t know they need it! Some sort of registry, like the one mentioned above, may help direct resources.

Questions: Does your state or local community have a registry for people with special health needs? How do you sign up? How is the registry maintained? How is it updated?  Note: People with special needs could be a target for unscrupulous or even criminal behavior, so privacy and security for any registry are paramount.

How to use these headlines.

OK, so while you’re digesting this spread of preparedness morsels, I hope you will have taken note of several questions that you want to answer for your personal benefit.

You can expect that getting those answers will take some time.

But as we have discussed many times, being prepared is a continual state of mind built on awareness, knowledge, and confidence.

I think pursuing news headlines like these can help on all fronts!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Use these headlines at your next group meeting, or ask people to bring in their own news item on emergency preparedness. Pick a few to discuss. Come up with questions like those above and, if appropriate, turn getting answers into a group project.  (In our neighborhood team, we almost always have one small group or another pursuing one idea or another!)

 

When to Activate Your Emergency Team

Sunday, March 5th, 2017
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Quick! Call the Fire Department!

Emergency call

EMERGENCY ALERT!

Just before Christmas we had a fire here in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors heard a “ZAP” as he turned on the overhead light, and noticed smoke curling from the fixture. He ran outside to grab a garden hose, but as he scrabbled around to find it and then opened a sliding porch door to get back into the house, the fire exploded and knocked him right back down the stairs.

Ultimately, the home burned  down. Our neighbor was pulled safely away from the steps by an on-the-ball visitor. And fire engines arrived to protect the houses on either side.

What was our Neighborhood Emergency Response team doing during all this?

One member of our team was the first to call 911. Other members arrived on foot and helped keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles. (When the police arrived, the police took over, of course.)

Somewhere along the way, a few phone calls alerted other members of our team, including our group “Commander” (me), whose home is far enough away that this all went on without my even realizing it!

Later, we discussed how things went.

Decide: Big Emergency or Small Emergency?

Our group has been set up to help people prepare for “widespread emergencies when First Responders are overwhelmed and unable to respond.” Usually, that means preparing for “the big one (earthquake).” In that case, it will likely be hours if not days before our community gets assistance. We’ll need to deal with possible structural damages, roadway blockages, injuries, need for food, etc.

Our group educates and trains for big emergencies. It does not activate for localized, small emergencies, such as a fire or some sort of medical emergency. Those belong to the professionals.

We confirmed that this fire did not officially fall within our charter.

Choose: Active Bystander or Emergency Response Team member?

At the same time, when any of us hear a loud crash, or hear sirens and see an emergency vehicle pull up down the street, we’re curious and want to help if we can.

Individual members of our group have helped out in situations like this in the past:

  • At an accident in town, one member, first on the scene, parked her car across a lane to keep the victim from being run over.
  • One member alerted a hotel employee to grab his fire extinguisher when she saw flames coming from underneath a bus unloading passengers at the entrance.
  • One member used his “gas sniffer” to reassure a neighbor about a strange smell – and discovered a leak in his own BBQ! (That same gas sniffer operator has identified the smell of marijuana, too. Those are stories for another times . . .!)

The point is, many team members are ready and willing to step up without waiting for a formal group activation command.

When you recognize and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations, you fit the definition of active bystander. (There is also the “passive bystander,” someone who recognizes a bad situation but takes no action to stop or solve it. That’s not likely to fit anyone reading this Advisory.) In those cases, you’re acting as an individual and not as a CERT or neighborhood group member.

Communicate better for better results.

Part of CERT training is being ready to take charge. In the incidents described above, our individual CERT members made decisions and got other people to follow orders. We’ve often discussed the importance of projecting authority with the help of:

  • Loud, simple verbal commands (“Come to me.”)
  • Appropriate hand signals (“Stop.”)
  • A uniform (vest and/or helmet)

And when appropriate, you’ll want to activate your team.

Verbal commands and an authoritative posture work here, too. And for the group to function best, you need appropriate tools and protocols. After the recent fire, we reviewed our own communication protocols.

Communication steps.

Here’s what we agree on:

  1. Use a phone to CALL 911. (Don’t text to 911.)
  2. Use cell phone, landline, email and/or text messaging to alert other members of the team. (Have their numbers programmed into your phone’s memory.)
  3. Switch to hand-held radios (walkie-talkies) for efficient, immediate group-wide communications – or if regular phone service is out.
  4. Set up command center to manage a larger network. (Our command center is an officially-recognized HAM radio station with direct contact to the city’s emergency communications system.)

As we’ve described, our local group practices using our hand-held radios with a regularly-schedule monthly drill. Our HAM radio station operators belong to a city-wide group; they practice weekly.

Essential tools and equipment.

This Advisory points to the equipment that every group member needs to have and be familiar with. In particular:

Simple team uniform – a vest.

CERT graduates have their own vests; all our group members who aren’t CERT grads are issued inexpensive vests like this one. (They’re not likely to be worn often, so they don’t need to be top quality.) We encourage our members to carry their vests in the car, assuming their car will be where they are in an emergency.

Ergodyne GloWear 8020HL Non-Certified Reflective High Visibility Vest, One Size, Lime

Personal cell phone.

Everyone has his own phone, with his own provider. However, for emergency team members that phone needs to be able to store numbers. The owner should sign up for local automated alert programs (iAlert).

And the owner needs to know how to send a text! (Some of your members not too sure? Check out this Advisory.)

Hand-held radios (walkie-talkies) for team members.

We have reviewed walkie-talkies several times. As with all electronic devices, you can expect changes in what’s available. In any case, you should be able to get a short-range pair of hand-held radios appropriate for your local group for $30-40. Read our review page – it has questions to help you decide just what capabilities you need, and shows several popular models. We particularly like this Uniden model because the buttons clearly show how to change channels and raise and lower volume. Some of the smallest walkie-talkies combine functions on just one button, making it harder to figure out.

Uniden GMR1635-2 22-Channel 16-Mile Range FRS/GMRS Battery Operated Two-Way Radios – Set of 2 – Black

If you’re a candidate for a ham radio (and the licensing that goes along with them), here’s an article about these radios, too, with some info about how they differ from simple hand-held walkie-talkies. Prices vary from $50 to $450, so know what you need before you buy!


BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery

Emergencies happen frequently. Some we can help with, others are handled by First Responders and we have no role. Still, when a real emergency DOES happen, and you are there as witness, being ready to take positive action is something to feel confident about, and proud of.

That’s why we train, isn’t it?!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

The examples in this Advisory are all drawn from our own neighborhood group. They could just as well apply to a workplace group. If you are responsible for emergency preparedness at work, go back and see if your leaders and team members have the essential tools and equipment they need.

 

 

 

Survey Tool for Your Group or Community

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
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Preparedness SurveyThis week I came across a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) survey through one of my Google Alerts. (Alerts are a great resource; find out about them here.) The survey is currently being put out to residents in several counties in Washington State.

It turns out that DHS has been conducting similar surveys in different communities since 2001, trying to track trends in preparedness.

And yes, some trends have emerged. For example, the surveys have found that full time employees have the highest level of personal readiness compared with other types of employees. People with children in school also report higher preparedness levels. And, as you might expect, different parts of the country have different levels of preparedness.

Overall, though, American preparedness has not improved markedly since 2001!

We here at Emergency Plan Guide are trying to change that trend!

Can we take advantage of this survey to improve the preparedness in our local groups?

I’m not suggesting that we use it like DHS does. I see some other uses appropriate for your local CERT meeting.

A look at the original survey.

Before I add my comments, here’s (nearly) the whole survey. (I edited it slightly.) Take a look to see what YOU think about it. (It is LONG. Scroll through quickly to get an idea of the scope and format.)

Citizen Expectation Survey (from Homeland Security)

 1. My home is located in the following area

  • ________________

2. My household includes: (Check all that apply)

  • Child (Birth – 5 years)
  • Senior Citizen(s) (65 and over)
  • Disabled Family Member(s)
  • Non-English Speaking Member(s)
  • Household Pet(s)
  • Tribal Member(s) (and Affiliation)

3. What’s your main source of local, state, and national news and information?

  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Newspaper/Magazine
  • Internet
  • Social Media

4. How do you primarily receive your local weather forecast information?

  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Newspaper/Magazine
  • Internet
  • Social Media

5. What is the best way of delivering severe weather or disaster news and updates to you?

  • All Hazards Weather Radio
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Television
  • E-mail
  • Phone Call
  • Text message
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Other Social Media

6. Does your family have a Family Emergency Plan?

  • Yes
  • No

7. Does your Family Emergency Plan include: (Check all that apply)

  • I do not have a Family Emergency Plan
  • My plan includes how to contact each other in the event we were separated during a disaster (phone, text, e-mail addresses)
  • My plan includes an out-of-state family contact person for when all local communications are down
  • My plan includes a specific meeting place in the event my family is separated
  • My plan includes how and where to evacuate to in the event we must abandon our home during a disaster
  • Other

8. Does your or your child’s school have an Emergency Plan for disaster?

  • I have no children
  • I have no children who attend school
  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

9. Does your workplace have an Emergency Plan for disaster?

  • I am not currently employed
  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

10. Do you and all other members of your family, including your pets have a GO KIT, Get Away Bag or similar item? (Check all that apply)

  • Myself
  • Each family member
  • My pet
  • We have none
  • I do not know what a GO KIT or Get Away Bag is

11. I am aware of the risk and hazard to all local disasters, such as, earthquake, tsunami, severe weather, flooding, tornado and wildfire.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • I have no risk or hazard to any of these disaster events

12. I expect an Earthquake to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

13. I expect a Tsunami to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

14. I expect Flooding to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

15. If a disaster is threatening, my expectation is, I will receive warning and instructions from the following: (Check all that apply)

  • Local City Government
  • Local County Government
  • Tribal Government
  • State Government
  • Federal Government
  • ALL Hazard Alert Weather Radio
  • National Weather Service
  • Local Emergency Management
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • Local Fire Department
  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • All Hazard Alert Broadcast Siren (AHAB Warning Siren)
  • FEMA

16. If a disaster situation was imminent, would you evacuate your home if warned to do so by official authorities?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

17. If you had a 10 hour advance warning of the need to evacuate your home, how long would you expect it to take, to prepare and leave your home, once you receive the initial evacuation warning?

  • I would not evacuate
  • Under an hour
  • 1-2 hours
  • 2-4 hours
  • 4-6 hours
  • Longer

18. If you were to evacuate following a warning given by local authorities, would you bring your pet(s) with you?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • I have no pets – I would evacuate
  • I have no pets – I would not evacuate

19. If you were to evacuate following an order given by local authorities, where would you most likely go?

  • I would not leave my home
  • I would stay with family/friends in my County
  • I would stay with family/friends in an area other than my County
  • I would stay in a hotel/motel in my County
  • I would stay in a hotel/motel in an area other than my County
  • If none of the above, explain where you would go.

20. What modes of transportation are available to you in the event you have to evacuate from your home? (Check all that apply)

  • I have no available transportation
  • Private automobile
  • Public transportation
  • Bicycle
  • I would rely on friends or family
  • Other (please specify)

21. I expect emergency response agencies to assist me if I must evacuate my home.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

22. If my County were impacted by a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, I expect Federal and State Response Agencies, including FEMA and the Red Cross, to respond within:

  • 12 hours
  • 24 hours
  • 2 days
  • 3 days
  • 4 days
  • Longer than 4 days

23. If my County were impacted by a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, I expect Local, City and County Response Agencies to respond within:

  • 12 hours
  • 24 hours
  • 2 days
  • 3 days
  • 4 days
  • Longer than 4 days

24. In a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, who would you seek out to obtain food or shelter assistance?

  • School
  • City Hall
  • Local Fire Department
  • Local Police Department
  • Church
  • Hospital
  • Unsure
  • Other
  • If other, please specify here

25. Have you signed up for the Emergency Alert and Notification System in your county?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I do not know if we have an Alert and Notification System in my county.

26. Do you have a NOAA All Hazards “Alert” Weather Radio?

  • Yes
  • No

27. Which news headline would likely interest you enough to read the associated article?

  • A Huge Winter Storm is Approaching With Winds Exceeding 150 mph and a Large Storm Surge.
  • We’re Awaiting One of the Most Extraordinary, Mind Boggling, Meteorologic Marvels, Never Before Witnessed by any Earthbound Creature.
  • Neither Headline Would Interest Me Enough to Continue Reading the Article.

28. Please indicate if you would like more information on any of the following:

  • Evacuation
  • Disabled/Functional Needs Disaster Preparedness
  • Livestock Preparedness/Evacuation
  • Pet Preparedness/Evacuation
  • Family Preparedness
  • Business Preparedness
  • School Disaster Preparedness
  • My Local County Emergency Management
  • Disaster Mitigation
  • Disaster Response
  • Disaster Recovery
  • FEMA/Flood Programs
  • Evacuation Routes/Shelters
  • Communications
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • Severe Weather
  • Disaster Volunteer Organizations
  • My Local County Emergency Notification System

29. Do you have suggestions, comments, questions or constructive criticism? Please write your comments or concerns here. (If you desire a reply, please leave your name, email, and phone number).

How to use the survey as training material. 

I’m usually an enthusiastic survey taker (or interview giver), but this survey is so long that even I felt like abandoning it halfway through.

Therefore, my first idea would be to divide the survey up into several sections or themes and use each one as part of, or the main focus of, a group meeting. For example:

  • Ask group members to complete a section of the survey themselves, and then use that section for discussion.
  • Assign sections of the survey to sub-groups and have them prepare background material or collect samples to share with the others.
  • Create still another version of the survey for neighbors who aren’t yet part of the group. You wouldn’t collect the surveys, but would design them as “eye-openers” for your neighbors!

Family Needs – Questions 1 – 5

Every family is different. Poll the group to detect commonalities. Share resources, such as the best TV channels for weather news, etc. What particular challenges would you have associated with children, older people, people not speaking English, etc.? What actions can your group take to help meet some of these challenges?

Individual Family Plans – Questions 6 – 9

If your group is not likely to have plans, whether family or work related, perhaps you can focus on providing step-by-step instructions on what should be included. At Emergency Plan Guide, we devote about half our Advisories to one facet or another of planning! Here’s a recent article on building a Family Plan and a one-pager for increasing workplace preparedness.

Building a Go Bag – Question 10

Provide people with a list; call a meeting that focuses on “show and tell” using one of the leaders’ bags. At work, make copies of “What to take with you” and distribute them. Check out our new custom survival kit workbook for families, too — it works for all families and can be an excellent benefit for employees.

Likely Threats – Questions 11 – 14.

We’ve had good luck getting experts to train us on different natural and man-made threats. YouTube has great resources, too. Stick with the threats that are most likely; no need to overwhelm everyone with EVERY possible threat! People will have their own amazing stories to share!

Warnings and Evacuation – Questions 15 – 26

Traditionally, about half the people, when asked, say they will NOT evacuate! Be sure people understand how and when to evacuate, and the fact that once they’re out, they can’t come back. Don’t forget to discuss how people with disabilities will be assisted to evacuate, and how to handle pets and large animals. In particular, note how long it might take for “authorities” to show up with help. (Check with your local Red Cross.) “Evacuation Realities” would be a popular topic to attract all kinds of visitors to a group meeting.

As for the “warnings,” you can help people know what to expect locally, show them how to sign up for local alert apps, and see if you can arrange for the purchase of NOAA Weather Radios.

Not sure I’d include – Questions 27 – 29

Caution: You may find some of these questions ask for information that you consider “too personal” to share openly. Feel free to remove or adjust those questions. In any case, be sure to discuss with your group the importance of privacy and how to maintain it.

Training is an ongoing challenge. (That’s why I pulled together my book on CERT Meeting Ideas.)

Finding already-developed materials like this survey is a boon to CERT group leaders. While this particular survey wasn’t designed for groups, it can certainly work as a refresher, as a discussion starter, or even as an agenda for several separate meetings.

Let us know if and how you find it useful!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

 

How to Light a Flare

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
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Accident in Darkness

Winter darkness makes accidents on the road hard to see and even more dangerous.

Having a good accident kit in the car can help protect YOU, and might help protect others if you come across an accident scene.

An accident kit is different from a car survival kit. The survival kit has stuff for YOU – warm clothing, flashlight, food, water, etc.  The accident kit has stuff for the CAR, like jumper cables, emergency reflector triangles, flat tire inflator, and flares.

Does your car accident kit have road flares?

When it’s dark, there’s nothing better than flares to warn oncoming vehicles of an accident, a stranded car or even an injured person. Flares are easy to get, easy and safe to store, and they last a long time. The problem that people have with ‘em is . . .

How to light a standard industrial flare?

Our CERT group had the opportunity to practice one evening with the police department. We hung around in our official vests, enjoying the cool evening and the chance to see each other again. When it came time to light the flares, however, some of us looked pretty dumb.

It’s not as simple as you might think!

Here are some guidelines that I took away from that evening.

1Have more than one flare so you can warn oncoming vehicles and direct them around the accident.

2-Pick where you want each flare to go BEFORE you attempt to light it. Once the flare is burning, you will not want to carry it around to be positioned! It’s BURNING and shooting off white-hot bits!  Some things to keep in mind:

  • If there’s spilled gas, don’t use a flare nearby at all.
  • Keep flares on the road so they don’t roll into a ditch or catch vegetation on fire.
  • Go to where you’ll place the flare, and then light it.

3-Remove the cap on the flare to expose the rough striking surface.

A flare has a plastic cap. Part of the cap contains a rough “striking surface.” Under the cap is the “igniter” end of the flare. You want to hold the striking surface in one hand and the flare in the other.

4-Light the flare by scratching it across the striking surface.

Extend both arms and scratch the flare across the striker in a movement going away from your body.

It’s rather like striking a very large match. Too soft a strike, nothing happens. Too hard, and you can break the “head” off the match.

In our group, most people had trouble getting the right amount of pressure and speed to get the flare to light. One person actually broke the head off the flare because he “scratched” too hard.

5-Place the ignited flare where you had planned to place it.

Put the cap back on the non-burning end of the flare. If you’re carrying it, keep the flame pointed down so you don’t get any drips on your hand.

Don’t drop the flare – you could break or extinguish it. Don’t place the flare in a puddle – it could go out.

If it’s raining, place the flare so any running water goes around the base of the flare and not directly against the flame end. You can prop it up to keep it dry.

6-The flare will burn for 10-30 minutes.

When you’re ready to extinguish it, break off the burning end and let it burn out. You cannot easily smother this flame.

(In our group, we picked up the burning flares and carefully tossed them a little ways down the road. When they landed the burning end broke off.)

After practicing, we all felt more competent.

It’s like so much else. Until you’ve practiced, you really can’t count on being able to make it work! So here’s a suggestion:

Buy a supply of flares and set up a practice. Even if everyone doesn’t attempt to light a flare, everyone in the group will clearly see how it’s done – and what NOT to do! A great CERT group exercise, and a great family exercise, too.

Hi-tech No-Flame Alternative  — LED, Battery-driven Flares

Obviously, First Responders use “real” flares because they work! Everyone recognizes just what they mean, and starts paying attention as soon as they become visible.

But not everyone is ready to handle industrial flares as described above!

If you find this just too challenging, consider a good alternative: plastic strobe light flares that are safe and comfortable to use.

These flashing, reusable flares come in two styles – stand-up flares with a tripod base, and round, disc-style flares that lie on the ground or attach magnetically to a car.

I personally prefer flares that are really bright and can be seen from all sides – so the disc style would not be my first choice.

In fact, here are flares that we own. (We also own reflective triangles made by the same company). I particularly like that they come in their own case; otherwise, the flares (and their bases) can get lost in the trunk of the car.

Click on the link or the image to get full details. (As you know, we’re affiliates at Amazon so this link will take you there.)

Magnatek LED Flashing Roadside Emergency Beacon Flares-Two RED Flares with Solid Storage Case

A couple of hints if you’re considering flares like these.

  • Each flare has 3 different settings, one of which converts it to a flashlight. Handy.
  • The flares use AAA batteries. If you leave the batteries installed in the trunk of your car for weeks and months, ultimately they will corrode. So, store the batteries in a baggie UN-INSTALLED but in the package with the flares. Of course, it makes sense to PRACTICE installing them as soon as you get the flares so you’ll be able to do it in the dark and when you’re nerves are frazzled because of an accident.
  • These flares also have magnetic bases so you could place one on TOP of your stranded vehicle for more visibility.

 

(This image – for one order — shows the front and back of the case. It’s misleading. Each individual case comes with two flares. If you want more than two, then you’ll have to order more cases.)

Another good idea for a stocking stuffer!  (A very large stocking, perhaps!)

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Again, a reminder to check the status of the batteries in your emergency lights, flashlights, etc. They ultimately do go bad if not recharged or replaced. Now’s a good time to do that.

 

 

Drones for Emergency Response Teams

Friday, November 18th, 2016
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The market has expanded dramatically.

Quadcopter as emergency tool

How useful in an emergency?

Part One of Two.

It was just two years ago when we wrote our first article about drones. At that time, non-military drones were still in their infancy. In fact, drones were mostly high-tech toys that (probably) appealed to the same folks who love electric cars and boats and model airplanes.

So we wrote about them as toys, with some interesting but not yet widespread uses like delivery of packages or emergency equipment.

Today things are different. The market has expanded dramatically. And because we are ALWAYS interested in leveraging our strengths when it comes to preparing for or dealing with an emergency, it makes sense to look a lot more closely at drones as emergency tools.

A new category of drones has appeared.

In addition to military and hobby use, we now have drones designated “for commercial and non-governmental use.” Naturally, anything labeled “commercial” means it carries rules.

So whether you’re looking at purchasing a drone — whether as a toy or a piece of emergency team equipment — you should be aware of the latest rules from the FAA.

New Rules for Small UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) as of August 29, 2016

Register Your Drone

Any UAS weighing more than .55 lbs. must be registered. If it weighs less than .55 lbs you can register it online; otherwise, go to the FAA website to get started registering it on paper.  Here’s the link:  https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/UA/

A pilot under 13 years of age will need an adult to complete the registration.

Pilot Your Drone Safely

Caveat – these rules are changing! (You’ll see why when you look at them carefully.) If you are really interested in using a drone, be sure you know the rules for non-recreational use.  You can check in on a regular basis to monitor any changes, at http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/

The current rules as of this date, November, 2016:

  • Drones must remain in visual line of sight of the pilot — no first-person-view cameras. (This means no flying by what the camera shows as opposed to what you actually see from where you are standing.)
  • Maximum speed is 100 mph and maximum altitude is 400 feet.
  • Pilots must be at least 16 years old and hold a “remote pilot airman certificate,” issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Operation is only allowed during daylight hours or twilight with appropriate lighting.
  • Pilots must avoid flying over populated areas or over specific people not involved in the operation. ( Based on an “Expectation of privacy”)

To see a summary of the entire set of rules (so-called “Part 107”) go here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf

The rules for recreational use really don’t vary much from the “official” rules listed above! They include the same limitations on line of sight, height and speed, and, in particular, avoiding “no-fly” zones like airports, military bases, athletic events, and the White House. One difference: your teenager doesn’t need a Remote Pilot certificate if he wants a drone for Christmas. But if the drone weighs over .55 lbs., it will have to be registered.

Please note — again! – rules keep changing! In particular, rules for non-recreational use, like for emergency purposes, which we’ll get to, are under continuing review. NASA is leading a multibillion-dollar effort to develop a system to manage manned and unmanned flight, while the FAA is expected to ease restrictions on commercial drones.

Using Your Drone as an Emergency Response Tool

Defense is by far the largest market for drones. But there are so many smart ways a drone can be used by the rest of us! For example,

  • Farmers can check on irrigation lines and crop growth at the far reaches of the acreage.
  • Scientists can track ice melt or water level rise without having to wade in, or visible earthquake faults or landslides.
  • Firefighters can safely track movement of the fire line, position of crews and equipment.
  • Real estate professionals can film a property’s exterior, and then tour the entire home inside, for the benefit of prospective buyers. (Walk-through videos are already popular, but for an aerial view of the whole property, the agent has to rent a helicopter!)

What about Emergency Response Team usage?

While not commercial, and yet not exactly recreational, here are some uses we are considering . . .

  • Use a drone to provide overhead lighting when searching an area at night
  • Inspect upper levels of buildings or structures (in industrial or high-rise residential areas)
  • Film damaged areas or obstructions following a disaster
  • Map area covered by the CERT team to segment into manageable areas
  • Search areas for survivors following an event
  • Reconnaissance of adjacent areas to identify pathways to safer positions
  • Drop markers to designate specific damages or routes to follow
  • Monitor teams during training exercises with filmed records for group critique
  • Transfer supplies, first aid items, batteries, replacement radios, etc.
  • Transport high value items over a distance, reducing the need for multiples of expensive equipment (e.g., gas sniffer)

You can probably come up with many more.

Challenges with these Emergency Team uses?

1-Rules may limit your CERT team’s use.

When you look at even this short list of uses, you will see that a number of these uses would be against current rules! Let’s look again . . .

  • Can’t fly at night.
  • Can’t let drone out of your sight.
  • Can’t fly higher than 400 feet.

From our standpoint as emergency responders, these restrictions make no sense. In a serious situation the safety of our neighbors in the community is more important that the actual altitude of the drone looking for them! Moreover, we have confidence that some of these restrictions will soon be lifted.

So we are not letting these restrictions stop our analysis.

2-Battery life may limit your team’s use.

Most drones have a flying time of only 10-20 minutes. To get a couple minutes more of flight can cost a couple hundred more dollars in purchase price. No matter which model you get, plan on getting at least 3 or 4 extra batteries right along with the machine.

3-Set up in advance to be able to share your images and videos.

Clearly, the emergency planning and response ideas above would generate information you’d want to share with the rest of your team or with First Responders! There are several options available – the obvious one being sending footage to YouTube or Vimeo.

However, the FAA may label your video as “commercial use” if it appears with an ad on it, whether or not you wanted it!  (Again, in an emergency, I’d probably not worry about that. But be aware . . .) Other sharing options include apps provided by Facebook, Dropbox and certain drone manufacturers.

If you goal is to share your work, find out more before purchasing.

OK, with all this in mind,

Which drone is best for our Neighborhood Response Team?

In our community, we already have some guys who race electric cars. And there are a couple who build and fly model airplanes. The skills they bring to the table will be valuable – but not all of them are on our CERT team, of course.

So, as we shop for a drone, we have to add “ease of set-up” and “easy to fly” to our shopping list.

Here’s the whole shopping list so far:

  • Big enough to fly outside, in somewhat inclement weather (Cheap toys won’t work.)
  • Strong enough to carry something to a designated location
  • The best battery life we can get for the price
  • Proven performance (not bleeding edge technology)
  • Reasonable image and video quality, though not necessarily the highest
  • Easy to set up and start flying
  • Compatible with variety of hand-held mobile devices

We’ve done a lot of comparing of different machines to get to this point! I hope the data above will be helpful to you in your own search.

Our next Advisory will review the machines in our “list of top choices.” Watch for it in about a week.

Just one last caveat. Our research showed prices for THE SAME MACHINE varying by as much as $100.00.  So take your time to be sure you’re getting exactly what you thought you were getting!

See our top choices in Part Two of Drones for Emergency Response Teams.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S.  Found this tidbit you should consider, too: “Report to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in at least serious injury, loss of consciousness, or property damage of at least $500.”  (!)

 

 

Communication Challenges in an Emergency

Thursday, October 20th, 2016
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Once again, Emergency Plan Guide offers some tips for business or neighborhood CERT teams.  Today’s subject: communicating with people in a disaster situation.

 Last month we talked about the importance of succinct and clear radio communications. Today, succinct and clear are just as important, but this is a situation where you are dealing with a non-professional. It’s a situation that may be uncertain and unfamiliar to you both. Communication is going to be a challenge, no matter what.

Action Item: Use this Advisory to start a discussion in your group on potential problems. You are likely to be able to add more specifics based on your environment.

Person with disabilities

“Not getting through?!” 

In a big emergency, whether you are a concerned citizen, an Emergency Response Team member, or a First Responder dealing with victims or potential victims, you may find your words just not getting through!

You are asking urgent questions or giving urgent commands.

But the people you’re dealing with just aren’t responding!

Before you overreact and start yelling, run through this list in your mind. If you can identify one of these problems, and its solutions, you’ll have a better idea of what to do next for better communications.

Don’t forget to start by introducing yourself!

In any emergency situation, start by introducing yourself and why you are there.

For example: “My name is Joe, I’m a member of CERT, and I am here because there’s been an explosion and we need to move you to a safer location.”

Tell the person where they are going and what they need to take with them. If you know, tell them how long this move is likely to last. Repeat that it’s urgent that they get started . . . and that you are there to help.

If you know the person’s name, use it to start your sentences.

If the person has a care-giving companion, address your remarks to the person, not the companion!

What to do if the person doesn’t respond to your commands.

There are a number of things that could be preventing your audience from understanding your words and/or what they should do. Here are a few problems, with tips for how to address them.

The person doesn’t understand what you are saying.

1- Whether the person doesn’t hear well, doesn’t speak English well, or has mental health issues, here are some ideas for improving communication:

  • Make sure they know you are there to help. Get their attention by calling out and flicking the lights.
  • Get face to face with the person and at their level; don’t yell down at them or across the room.
  • Speak simply, clearly and slowly. Use hand gestures in speaking.
  • Repeat your commands or requests as necessary. If still no understanding, use DIFFERENT words to explain; don’t just repeat the same thing over and over.
  • Write your message on a paper, and let the person write back.

2- You are dealing with an elderly person who is resisting or confused.

  • Tell the person you are there to help.
  • If the person needs to leave the home, reassure them that this will only be temporary.
  • Gather medicines (or at least a list) and any portable medical equipment.
  • Let them know how and when they will be able to contact family.

 

What if the person isn’t able to follow your commands?

1- Person has a service animal and you aren’t sure how to proceed.

  • The animal must be kept with its owner. A service animal is like an extension of the person – it is not a pet.
  • The service animal must be on a leash or in a harness but does not need a muzzle.
  • Don’t try to give the animal instructions or use its harness to direct it. The animal will respond only to its owner.
  • Do not feed or pet the animal.

2- Person has mobility problems (walker or wheelchair in room).

  • Ask to be sure you understand the person’s capabilities. For example:
    • “Can you stand or walk without your walker?”
    • “Can you get down the stairs without my help?”
  • Assume the person knows how you can help. Let her tell you the best way to do it.
  • Assume the person knows how her equipment works. Let her give instructions about how to attach or detach parts, move the chair up or down stairs, etc.

3- Person declares or you think he is visually impaired.

  • Announce your presence.
  • Visually impaired does not mean hard of hearing. Speak in a normal tone of voice.
  • State the nature of the emergency, tell him what needs to happen, and offer assistance.
  • Do not reach out and grab the person to move him. Let him take your arm or rest his hand on your shoulder and then lead him.
  • Warn of stairs, doorways, ramps, etc. before you reach them.
  • To help a person sit down, place his hand on the back of the chair.

 

Communicating in a disaster takes extra thought.

By and large, we understand and are able to automatically put many of these tips into use. In an emergency, though, we may allow our own excitement to make the situation more challenging than it needs to be.

Take a deep breath, think it through.

It will be so much easier dealing with someone who (finally) understands than trying to force them, confused and frightened, into action.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. The best resource I’ve found on the topic of communication with people with disabilities is called Tips for First Responders, from the Center for Development and Disability at the University of New Mexico. You can get copies of the booklet here: http://cdd.unm.edu/dhpd/tips/tipsenglish.html

P.P.S. Resources for dealing with people with disabilities all echo this point: these are PEOPLE FIRST.  Start with the assumption that they have many abilities. For an interesting perspective about the concept of “People First” – written by a person with disabilities — check out this article from the Huffington Post.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/disability-etiquette_n_3600181.html

 

 

 

 

 

Gift That Will Save a Life

Thursday, October 13th, 2016
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Vial or File of Life – a Great Gift Idea for Family or Employees

We are constantly looking for ways to engage our communities in “preparedness thinking.” It’s not always easy. For some reason, many people prefer to fall back on “It won’t happen to US!” as the reason they don’t do any planning.

However, everyone has seen an ambulance pull up to a home or business, lights blazing. Everyone stops for at least a moment to wonder what is happening inside.

We can use this fact to raise awareness in our neighborhoods or workplaces. Here’s a GIFT that you can arrange for that people will value – and that could make a difference between life and death.

The Gift: The Vial of Life

At a recent meeting with the Fire Department we were reminded that when First Responders are called to an emergency in a home, they automatically look for the victim’s VIAL OF LIFE.

Vial of LifeWhat is the Vial of Life?

The Vial is really simply a container that holds essential medical information for the people in the house – information that First Responders will want to know if they have to give emergency treatment.

Originally, the info was put into an actual vial (like a medicine prescription bottle) but these days, the preferred container is a simple zip lock Baggie. You can see the plastic baggie in the image (blue stripe).

What goes into the Vial of Life Baggie?

The Baggie holds a filled-out Medical Information Form. It’s the form in the picture, with places for info such as:

  • Name of person in trouble
  • Name of Doctor
  • Medical conditions
  • Current medicines/prescriptions
  • Allergies
  • Contact information for family

Where do I put the Vial of Life Baggie?

Identify the Baggie by placing a decal with a red cross on the outside. Fold the Medical Information Form and place it inside.

Then fasten the baggie to the refrigerator door with tape or a magnet.

(Naturally, you’ll want to keep the Medical Information Form updated – that’s why it’s best to use a zip lock style baggie so you can take papers out and replace them.)

How does the Fire Department know I have this information on my refrigerator?

Depending on the layout of your home, place the second decal with a red cross on the front window or door to your house. This will let the Fire Department know you have a Vial of Life Baggie on the refrigerator.

Even without the second sticker, they will likely automatically look there for medical information.

Anything else I need to know?

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to put other information into the Baggie. For example . . .

  • If you have appointed someone else to make medical decisions for you in an emergency (common for senior citizens), you may want to include that info along with directions to where the full document can be found.
  • Your Advance Health Care Directive, which tells what emergency life-sustaining treatment you want, can also be included. (That form is available online and must be witnessed by your doctor.)
  • Finally, if you have specific end of life wishes, such as the desire to donate your body, you may want to include that info, too.

These documents are important.

Without the Vial of Life information, emergency personnel will follow their STANDARD PROCEDURE – which may NOT be what you want or can even survive.

How to Use the Gift with Your Group

If you want people to participate, you have to make it easy for them.

The “easiest” is to create Vial of Life kits, already assembled, and pass them out to all the members of your group. Each member of the family needs one!

You can go to http://www.vialoflife.com to get the masters for everything you need.

Assemble into individual kits:

  • Instruction sheet
  • Baggie
  • 2 Decals (print your own using color printer onto white labels), one for the Baggie and one for the door
  • Medical Information Form

If you prefer, turn this into a group activity. Provide sheets of decals, piles of forms and instructions and the baggies and have group members set up an assembly line to separate and assemble the kits.  Next step is to distribute kits to neighbors, family members, etc. (You could add a pen as an extra incentive to get the form filled out!)

We distributed Vial of Life kits to our community about three years ago. Many of our neighbors, who don’t participate in any of our neighborhood emergency response team activities, still have their Baggies and point proudly to them.

The Vial of Life has been a successful and inexpensive awareness builder for our team. Add it to your own group’s agenda!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you are looking for other emergency response team ideas for group activities, please don’t overlook the book of CERT Meeting Ideas I put together earlier this year. You can get details here.

 

 

Why are you a prepper?

Thursday, September 15th, 2016
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My neighbors vote on preparedness. The result?

Preparedness

“Raise your hand . . .”

At our recent homeowner’s association meeting, I asked for a show of hands:

“How many of you have set aside food and water for an emergency?”

Response was good. About 80% of the 100 or so people there raised a hand.

Next question:

“How many of you are prepared to provide your neighbor with food and water?”

Hands that had been raised to answer the first question went down immediately.

We all looked around. Not a single hand was visible. The sound of weak laughter was heard, then it died away.

Even after years of effort in building a neighborhood emergency response group, we recognize that . . .

Being prepared seems mostly to be a commitment to oneself.

On the other hand (pun!), a number of our neighbors are willing to encourage and even help others prepare. Based on the “vote” above, you might not expect this commitment. What’s behind it?

What gets and keeps a neighborhood emergency response group going?

Every so often we quiz everyone in our own neighborhood group about why they are a part of it – when we really don’t have many emergencies to respond to!

Here’s what we know about our members.

  • They have a “social conscience.” The most common answer to why they participate is always the same: “I want to give back.”
  • They feel a sense of responsibility for the community, and typically are engaged with other neighbors one way or another.
  • They acknowledge the risks that face the community. In our case, those risks include earthquake, wildfire, and, more frequently, loss of electricity and water. And, in an earthquake, broken gas mains.
  • They like feeling empowered. Our group members are familiar with the infrastructure of our community. They know where First Responders come from and how long it takes them to get here. They understand how our mobile radio station works and who we’ll be calling in an emergency. And they know the limitations that our property managers operate under.
  • They like their gear. Our members use their walkie-talkies every month, and bring battery-operated lanterns, first aid kits and fire extinguishers to meetings when we advertise a “show and tell.” (And they really like winning the door prize – even if it’s a simple $2 LED flashlight.)

 

How to encourage more people in the neighborhood to prepare for themselves?

We have found that people who aren’t willing to take steps on their own to prepare for emergencies will sometimes respond – slowly and maybe begrudgingly – to repeated messages of . . .

  • Guilt (“What will your children say when they are hungry and you didn’t think ahead enough to provide for them?”)
  • Fear (“Imagine being trapped under debris, in the dust and dark, unable to move . . .”)
  • A friendly helping hand (“Here’s a simple list of the top 5 things to do, and a bottle of water to get started.”)

 

How to encourage more people to join in the neighborhood emergency response group?

To be successful, any group has to offer benefits to its members. We try to focus on some of these in our communications and monthly meetings . . .

  • Make it fun! (I mentioned door prizes above. They do work at meetings! And we try to include a joke once in a while in our “educational” pieces.)
  • Give everybody a job that helps make a meeting a success – set up the room, be a greeter, take notes, whatever.
  • Recognize accomplishments – new CERT graduates, someone who used a skill learned in the group in a real life situation. Last month one of our members connected with a relative in another state and got some good preparedness info passed along to a whole new audience!
  • Keep training. Our members like to keep learning new stuff. (They particularly like learning from new instructors – some of whom are now coming from videos on YouTube.)
  • Make it easy to join. Have a welcome and orientation package for new group members. Ease them in; they don’t have to know everything you know on their very first day.

As I write this, I realize I’m writing in part for myself! Having been actively involved in our neighborhood group ever since I took the CERT training in 2002, I’ve observed and tried every one of the suggestions above! Over the years, the size of our group has varied from 15 or so to as many as 85, and then come back down again.

As we have said many times, preparedness is much more a STATE OF MIND than a stash of emergency supplies. And in a real emergency, it’s the people closest to you – that is, your neighbors – who will be the true First Responders. The more THEY know, the more prepared THEY are, the safer YOU will be!

So, I guess we just keep keeping on!

Please add your comments to this post, and your suggestions for inspiring people to take action for themselves and to take action for their neighbors, too.

It’s the best we can do!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you are building a neighborhood group, please take a look at the manual I put together a few months ago. It details many of the successful meeting we’ve held over the past few years. If you’re in the midst of planning a neighborhood meeting right now, it will be a big help!

 

 

Survival Vocab Quiz

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
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Survival VocabularyOK, so you’re in good shape when it comes to preparedness.

But can you talk to people about preparedness using THEIR words?

Here are three quick quizzes for three different groups. See how you do!

Group One: Your Prepper Relatives

While you may not be a red-hot survivalist, you probably have a few in the family. Maintain your dignity by knowing these prepper acronyms:

  1. EDC – Every day carry – collection of essential, small items that the survivalist has at all times in a pocket or purse.
  2. ATV – All-terrain-vehicle – A three or four-wheeled “buggy” that can carry preppers to safety through the woods or over the hills, when roads are impassible or too dangerous.
  3. BOB – Bug-Out-Bag – What you need to have ready to grab and go and that will keep you alive for at least 72 hours. At a minimum it contains shelter, water, and food.
  4. OTG – Off the grid – Surviving without access to electricity, municipal water, grocery stores, etc. Usually, it means setting up alternative living arrangements in an isolated area where you won’t be bothered by people who haven’t prepared in advance.
  5. SHTF – Shit Hits The Fan – All your preparations are made so that you will survive when the SHTF.

Group Two: Your Emergency Response Team Volunteers

These folks are committed and concerned. You owe it to them to provide good leadership by knowing what you’re taking about.

  1. CERT – Community Emergency Response Team member – Someone who has taken the (free) 24 hour course designed by FEMA (see DHS, below), offered by a city or other local organization. CERT members are volunteers who have received training in basic disaster response skills and who agree to provide emergency care until professionals arrive, and then support those professionals as needed.
  2. DHS – Department of Homeland Security – DHS was established in 2002, combining 22 different federal departments and agencies into one cabinet-level agency that now has 240,000 employees. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is part of DHS.
  3. EMT – Emergency Medical Technicians — EMTs are trained to provide emergency medical care before a person arrives at a hospital. EMTs may be associated with an ambulance company or a fire department; they may have different levels of training depending on their state or employer.
  4. SOP – Standard Operating Procedure – “The way we do things.” If you don’t have an SOP for your team, then you can’t expect any given outcome.
  5. Triage — Triage is the first step in an emergency. It is the process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for medical treatment. Triage, by definition means that as a volunteer you don’t stop to help the first injured person you see.

Group Three: Co-workers

People at work deserve a plan for emergencies. If you’re involved, here are formal and informal terms you should be using:

  1. OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA is part of the Department of Labor. For our purposes, it is important to realize that OSHA’s purpose is to “provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards.” Generally, this does NOT require any sort of emergency preparedness plan.
  2. BC/DR Plan – Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plan — These terms are often used interchangeably but they both contain an approach to (1) preparing for emergencies, (2) taking action to limit damage before anything happens, (3) understanding how to get through the disaster when it does it, and then, (4) how to get back to BAU (see below).
  3. BIA – Business Impact Analysis – This is the first step to a Disaster Recovery plan. It’s a process that will identify and evaluate the potential effects of a disaster, accident or emergency on your critical business operations. The BIA will help set priorities for your planning.
  4. BAU – Business As Usual — After an emergency, BAU is what you want to get to. However, it’s possible that today in your workplace, if changes aren’t made right away, your current BAU will lead to a worse disaster than was necessary!
  5. SOW – Statement of Work — If your organization decides to hire a consultant to help in developing your BC or DR Plan, you’ll likely ask for, or actually provide yourself as part of the consulting contract, a statement of work that outlines exactly what is to be done.

Ok, had enough?! Here are a couple of suggestions to make this exercise valuable for a bigger audience.

  • Action Item #1: Consider printing out these definitions for your emergency response team members. Go over them out loud at a training meeting so everyone knows how they sound and can say them easily. Some of this will be new to some of your members, I can guarantee it!
  • Action Item #2: At work, share this list with co-workers or with your boss. If emergency preparedness and emergency planning are relatively new subjects, people will get a sense of confidence having been exposed to this vocab.

Let us know how you used the list!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. And one last acronym I just can’t resist putting in here: TEOTWAWKI:

If you’ve spent time on survival websites, you’ll know that this stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. TEOTWAWKI usually assumes a BIG disaster – total economic collapse, cosmic event, pandemic, etc. I don’t know how the acronym is pronounced, if it even can be pronounced!

P.P.S. More preparedness vocabulary for people who like this sort of thing:

 

 

 

 

 

Then The Knot Slipped . . .

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
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As simple as it seems, being able to use and tie the right knot can be the difference between life and death in an emergency.

This week we hear from an EmergencyPlanGuide.org reader about a recent CERT training class he led.

A SKILL WORTH KNOWING — by Sparky Wilson

CERT members practice knot tying

CERT members practice knot tying

Many skills learned by Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers can come together to make a huge difference in the success of a disaster response. The Lee County, North Carolina CERT actively studies and practices those things we learned in the CERT Basic Course:  individual preparedness, basic first aid, light search and rescue, light fire suppression, disaster psychology, CERT organization, effective radio communications, etc.  Those are all very important; but, there’s one important skill we have neglected until now – knot tying.

WHY KNOT?

Well, learning how to tie knots can save lives.  We all know that anyone can tie a knot; but, that is not the solution.  Knowing how to tie the right knot for the specific need is the solution.  There are dozens of different knots with hundreds of uses and all knots are not good for all purposes.

We began our knot tying efforts by studying different knots to determine those our team members would find most useful in an emergency.  As an added benefit we are finding that these same knots can make life a little easier around the house.

CERT VOLUNTEERS TIE KNOTS?

It is critical that we stay within the CERT scope of work.  We will never be first responders trained in the use of ropes and knots and that’s okay.  Staying within the CERT scope of work we feel that there are emergency situations where with the use of a few simple knots CERT volunteers can help their neighbors in trouble until the professionals arrive.

None of us want to think about a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flooding, or any other major disaster hitting our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, hope is not a method and not preparing for likely disasters just won’t work.

Assume for a minute that a disaster hits your neighborhood – homes are damaged, residents are hurt, communications are down and you can’t reach the professional responders for help. So what can do you do?  You can activate your CERT team and start your response efforts.

Your search and rescue team deploys and discovers victims – some trapped under heavy objects.  You start extricating trapped victims and look for loose items overhead and around the scene that can possibly fall on to your team and/or the victim.

  • Can you secure these items with rope and knots to keep them from falling while you extricate the victim?
  • Can you fashion the right knot on the end of a rope and toss it to the victim allowing rescuers to stay safe and accomplish the mission?
  • What is the best knot to use?
  • Do you know how to tie a Bowline or a Figure Eight Loop?
Two knots for CERT training

Good for rescue loops at the end of a rope – the Bowline and Figure 8 Loop

You’ve extricated the victims and you set out to move them to the Medical Treatment Area.  You quickly discover that the roads are blocked with fallen trees and debris.

  • What knot should you use to move fallen limbs and logs?
  • Do you know how to tie a Timber Hitch knot? (The far right-hand photo at the top of this page.)

LEARNING TO TIE KNOTS ADDS TO OUR PREPAREDNESS SKILL SET

We built Knot Tying Stations and held our first training class on the use of knots in June.  Our team members were oriented on how and when to tie ten useful knots that can save lives.  Our “hands-on” training included tying and learning the best uses for the following knots:  Overhand, Figure Eight knot and Loop, Square, Sheet Bend and Double Sheet Bend, Round Turn with Half Hitches, Clove Hitch, Timber Hitch, and the King of all Knots, the Bowline.  As a memory jogger, every team member was issued a two page instruction sheet that pictures and describes how to tie each of these knots and when to use the most important knots.  These instruction sheets are to be carried in our CERT backpacks.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Sailors, rock climbers, firemen, and boy scouts will tell you that tying a knot is one thing, but tying it properly is another. Our team members are no longer strangers to a few good knots.  We will master these knots by incorporating additional knot tying sessions into future training plans.  After all, practice makes perfect.

Sparky Wilson, CERT leader

 

Sincere thanks to our guest author, Sparky Wilson! He is a retired Army Colonel living in Carolina Trace, NC. In 2006 Sparky started a local CERT group and over two hundred volunteers have completed the CERT Basic Course since then. 

 

 

 

Do you have a volunteer group story to share? I’d love to feature you in one of our Advisories — just drop me a line and let me know! In the meanwhile, don’t let summer lull you into complacency. Preparedness is a year-round exercise!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you are intrigued by rope tying, or have experienced first hand just how effective a few good knots can be and want to learn more, take the time to study both how to tie the knots and understand their weaknesses. Some knots slip if not under constant pressure. Some can tangle if they are under too much pressure. Select the right rope and the right knot for the job and this is a skill you’ll appreciate on a regular basis, not just when there’s an emergency.

 

Guest Speaker Sparks New Interest

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
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Our neighborhood Emergency Response Group meets pretty much monthly, but when we go for weeks and months without a fire, or an earthquake, or even a downpour, sometimes it’s hard to keep up members’ enthusiasm.

Last month’s meeting “hit the spot” with a guest speaker.

Training sessionWe invited the new head of our city’s Office of Energy Management. And since he is new to the job, we provided him with . . .

Some questions to start the discussion.

Here are his answers, with a few comments from me. You might be able to use these same questions for your own group, or for your own guest speaker representing an official position. In any case, even if it takes some research, your neighborhood group members should know the answers.

Q: What kinds of emergencies does the City prepare for?

A: Our City’s Emergency Plan lists 9 threats — natural, man-made and what we call “technological incidents.” It’s not just earthquakes; we could be hit by an airplane crash, a chemical spill, a wildfire . . . you name it.

Q: Who’s in charge?

A: When the City activates its EOC (Emergency Operations Center), which is part of the Police Department, all directions come from there. The EOC coordinates local, city, county, and even state and federal resources when necessary.

Q: How often is the EOC activated?

A: It wasn’t activated at all in 2015, which was unusual. In prior years it’s been activated for a major power outage and also for a big manhunt.  Training takes place regularly, though. We train using table-top exercises, functional exercises (testing one particular function, like evacuation or communication) and full-scale exercises.

Q: In an emergency, how will we residents know what to do?

A: If all communications are out, expect a delay before you hear from us. But you have a better chance of getting the news if you have a landline (for reverse 911 calls), an emergency radio (channel 1640), and have access to social media via the internet.  Both the City and the County have smart phone apps, too, that send out automated alerts and news.

Q: Should we turn off our gas if there’s an earthquake?

A: Use your nose as a sniffer! If you smell gas, contact the property manager or 911. In the case of multiple leaks, trained residents can turn off the gas to the whole neighborhood – but then you will ALL be without gas for days. In an earthquake, if there are multiple gas leaks, the real danger is fire, so do NOT start your car or otherwise cause a spark!

Q: What about evacuating?

A: Don’t go anywhere unless you’re told to by authorities.  Our City has a number of evacuation centers and depending on the emergency we will choose which ones to use. We also have vans filled with supplies stationed throughout the City. The Red Cross has a goal of having an emergency shelter set up within 2 hours, but in a large-scale emergency that goal is not likely to be met.

It will take a while to organize everything – so be sure you have what you need to take care of yourself at home. (Note from Virginia: In our neighborhood, the plan is Shelter-in-Place for as long as it takes. We will be better off in our own beds and with our own things if at all possible.)

Q: How long a wait should we plan for?

A: We ask that you have supplies for AT LEAST 3 DAYS. Enough for 7 days would be better. That means water, food, medicines, flashlights, warm clothing, etc., for you and your pet.  We recommend a gallon of water a day per person. (Virginia: We recommend 10 days to 2 weeks’ worth of supplies as being more realistic.)

Q: What about people with special needs?

A: Our city makes no particular plans for special members of the community because we can’t anticipate what will happen. If you are on oxygen, register with your oxygen company so you will be on their list. In a big emergency, it’s your neighbors who will be most able to help right away. Make friends! (Virginia: This answer wasn’t satisfactory. Watch for more in an upcoming Advisory.)

Q: What role does the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team play?

A: The City has free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, and a number of people here have had that training. CERT graduates will have an idea  — and the SAME idea —of how to respond in an emergency: how to check on neighbors, assess damage, and manage communications. If you have taken the training, you will be safer yourself, and be able to step up to help.

(Virginia adds: Because our neighborhood team has its own ham radio station, it can listen in to emergency communications and actually report in on conditions here. Most neighborhoods won’t be able to do that.)

Q: How will we know what to report?

A: It all depends on having Block Captains who know their neighbors and know how to use their walkie-talkies to report in. You will always need more members of the team because you don’t know who will be here when an emergency hits.

Q: How do we find out more about CERT?

A: Contact the City.

Q: How do we find out more about our local group?

A: Contact your group leader to find out more.

At this point, we took over the meeting.

We passed out maps of our neighborhood, showing the Divisions, with the names and phone numbers of the Division Leaders. We introduced the Division Leaders. Our guest from the Police Department handed out some lists of emergency supplies and some brochures with general safety tips.

Then we adjourned to cookies and punch.

As follow up to the meeting we will publish notes similar to this Advisory, and contact some people who seemed interested in CERT training. (Unfortunately, our City’s classes are full for the next few months.)

A new face, even with the same message, helps a lot to keep up the momentum of your preparedness efforts. Who can you get to speak to YOUR group?

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

CERT Meeting IdeasP.S. If you have taken on the responsibility of planning meetings for your local group, you may want to take a look at the collection of CERT Meeting Ideas we put together last year. It has over 20 proven ideas with agendas, timing, materials needed, etc.

And stay tuned to Emergency Plan Guide, because we share our experiences — great and not-so-great — on a regular basis right here.

 

Here’s a Gift for You or a Friend

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
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On a daily basis we’re caught up in the excitement of whatever storm or heat wave is going on, or in the latest political maneuverings. Or maybe news from the sports world.

Here in California, though, there’s a background noise like the far-off rumble of a train. It is  . . .

The steady threat of an earthquake.

It’s tough to get people to think about and prepare for something they may never have experienced, no matter how dramatic you try to make it. Our neighborhood emergency planning group comes back to the subject of “the big one,” and earthquakes in general, again and again!

Here’s one of our best neighborhood emergency response group flyers.

How to protect yourself during an earthquake and afterwards

Share this flyer!

How to use the flyer.

  • Make copies and go over it at a neighborhood meeting. You will be surprised at the number of questions that will come up and the number of comments people will make about the supplies they have stored. Discuss the status of gas lines in your neighborhood and how to tell if there is a leak. Take a look around the room you are in and ask people what furniture they would get under if the earthquake happened right this minute! If your meeting takes place at night, find out how many people in the audience even have a flashlight with them! (Action item: Come prepared with a flashlight to give away as a door prize.)
  • Make a few changes to the text and and use the flyer at work.
  • Send to family members and out-of-town friends, too.

Emphasize the warning about NOT STARTING YOUR CAR if you suspect a gas leak. Cars backed up in traffic jams have started devastating fires in earlier quakes.

So you can make any changes, and fill in the box at the bottom of the flyer,

Click here to download the Microsoft Word document.

Let us know how your meeting goes. What questions came up that you weren’t expecting?

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

If you need more background for likely questions, here are some earlier Advisories that may be useful:

Building a Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Team

Monday, December 7th, 2015
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Yes, it’s fun to pull together survival kits for yourself and family members. For some of us, getting more and better survival gear turns out to be a sort of addiction! (A healthy addiction, we believe.) And creating family plans is satisfying, even though they require constant updating.

But once your immediate household is organized, what then?

Neighbors needing helpWhen the emergency hits, are your neighbors going to be knocking on your door, looking for help?

They may. And you may not want or be able to help them.

The only way to solve this problem is to encourage neighbors and co-workers to be as prepared as you are!

We have devoted a lot of our time over the past 12 years to helping our neighbors get prepared, trained and organized.  If you’ve been reading our Advisories, you know about some of what we’ve done.

Now we’re adding one more piece to the puzzle.

So, a new section is appearing on Emergency Plan Guide.

On our website, we’re starting a whole new section on building a neighborhood group. You’re getting in on the start of it!

  1. Step One is to pull together all our original material on team-building that we’ve created for Emergency Plan Guide readers. That list starts at the bottom of this post.
  2. Step Two will be to reach out to other organizations around the U.S. for their best ideas. In fact, many of our blog posts already link to others’ stories and skills.
  3. Step Three is to solicit specific input for Emergency Plan Guide readers. You can help here by referring us to people or sources you know, or by suggesting a topic you’d like to know more about. We’ll track down and share the best info we can find!

Let’s start with resources for those people who have already made the commitment to starting or building a neighborhood group.

We assume that as the leader, you will have found a way to get formal CERT training for yourself.  Not all members of your team may get training, but you need the framework and vocabulary of CERT so that your group can work effectively together and with local first responder teams.

So to start with Step One . . .

. . .here is a list of some original material from the Emergency Plan Guide collection. Most of this is ready for download as is, with the first couple of handbooks available for purchase.  We hope you’ll find what you need for YOUR group!

Comprehensive training manuals

  • Survival Series — The whole process of starting and maintaining a neighborhood group, from soup to nuts! Customized for the kind of neighborhood you live in, whether urban, suburban, or a closed community. $15 for immediate download. Click the link for full details.
  • CERT Meeting Ideas — A collection of meeting ideas, with a list of what you’ll need, how best to schedule the activities, what to watch out for, etc. $10 for immediate download. Get more details by clicking the link.

Stand-alone subjects for training or discussion

  • NEW! How to Recruit Volunteers — We just pulled this together.  Download your copy now!
  • How to Hold a Great Meeting — Event-planning basics that you’re probably familiar with, but that can help others on your team get up to speed.
  • Finding Leaders — Every member of your team needs to be able to step up to lead. After all, when the emergency hits, you can’t be sure who will be on hand.
  • Active Shooter Event — Worth a discussion, particularly given recent developments here and abroad.
  • For more, just click on NEIGHBORHOOD in the category listing in the sidebar to the right.

Possible group investments

More to come!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Top Survival Resources: Five Popular Stories and Subjects

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
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Top Survival TrendsAfter 15 years of training and writing about disaster preparedness, and with well over 250 articles under my belt, I discover that some topics keep coming up again and again – in the news media, in questions people ask, and on the various internet sites and in specialty magazines that report on “survival trends.”

Thanks to Google Analytics, we can track which articles are most often viewed on our site, too – and they reflect these same topics.

Here are . . .

Five of the most popular topics on EmergencyPlanGuide.org

with links that will take you immediately to more information on our site, and in many cases to outside resources including government and special industry sites.

Are you in the mainstream? Are these among YOUR favorite subjects? Check them out!

 

1. Emergency Radios and Radio Communications

If there is one topic that stands out, this is it.  In fact, radios and radio communications are twice as popular as anything else we report on!

A radio for your personal survival kit.

Are you ready to buy an emergency radio for yourself or a family member?  Check out our Updated Reviews of Emergency Radios with comments about solar, hand-crank, etc. Most of the radios we discuss are found on Amazon, where prices are as good as they get, and buyer comments are very helpful in selecting the best fit for your needs.

Two-way radio communications for groups.

Interested in how to use radios effectively for your group, whether it’s your family or a neighborhood response team? Then you need a way to not only listen, but also to speak.

We have used many different models, and review walkie-talkies here.  EmergencyPlanGuide.org also has a number of Advisories on walkie-talkie use:

If you are serious about building a neighborhood group, each of the books in our Survival Series has a complete discussion and a diagram showing one way to use radio communications, how to assign channels for your different divisions and specialty teams, etc.

2. Emergency/Survival Kits

We know that some people simply don’t have time to actually build their own kit, so we start with a review of Popular Ready-Made Kits to be found on Amazon.  The purpose of the review is not to recommend any one kit in particular, but to highlight different things to look for as you shop. (Again, please be aware that if you buy something from Amazon through one of our links, we may receive a commission from Amazon. The commission does not influence the price you pay.)

Because every person and family is unique, we recommend strongly that you Build Your Own Basic Kit, and we have written a booklet to guide you through the various decisions that need to be made.  Once you have the basic kit, add items that fit your climate, your skill and your interest level.

We have also discovered that most people continue to improve their kit by adding specialty items. Some of the most interesting additions:

 

3. Special Preparations for City Dwellers

Much of the “prepper” literature deals with developing skills that allow you to survive by living off the land. For urban or suburban dwellers, particularly people living in apartments or condos, these survival skills need to be adjusted to the realities of the city.

Some of our popular articles on these special situations:

 

4. Emergency Water Supplies

We probably spend more of our time on water than on anything else (even though, as reported above, website visitors seem to prefer reading about radios!). How to store water for an emergency, where to find more water when the emergency hits, and how to protect yourself from contaminated water – these are ongoing challenges that need to be overcome if we are to survive.

A few of the most comprehensive articles focused on water:

 

 

And finally, one topic unique to EmergencyPlanGuide.org  . . .

5. Counting on Neighbors  for Survival

We know that the first people to be there to help in an emergency are the people already there – the neighbor at home next door, or the co-worker at the next desk or in the next room.

With that being the case, we think that the more we all know, the better chance we’ll all have to survive, at least until professional help arrives.

We also know that professional help – police and fire – will be overwhelmed in the aftermath of a widespread disaster, so it may be hours or even days before they do arrive. A strong neighborhood team, ready to take action, just seems to make great sense.

Our 15-year commitment to neighborhood emergency preparedness has been focused primarily on building a neighborhood response team. It has been a labor of love – and yes, a LOT of labor!

The website has many stories about what it’s taken to build the group. You can find many of these stories by heading to the site and simply typing “CERT” into the search box!

We have even compiled much of this information into two in-depth resources:

 

I hope you’ll find this list helpful, and a reminder of areas in your own planning that may not be as secure as you’d like. Also, if you would like to see more on any aspect of emergency preparedness or disaster recovery, please just let me know!

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

We mean it! Let us know in the comments what topics YOU like to read more about!

 

When Seconds Count — Emergency Preparedness Videos

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015
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Do you know what to do in each of these situations?

Last Wednesday was the regular meeting for our local Neighborhood Emergency Response Team volunteers. Lately members have asked for “more training” on a variety of threats – threats we don’t normally spend much time on here in Southern California.

So we decided to devote this meeting to some dangers that most people in the room had heard of but probably never faced.

In fact, before the program, we took a poll of the people in the room. Not one person had ever encountered killer bees. No one had landed in a canal or river in their car, although two of them had temporarily lost control of a car in flooding water on city streets. And only three people had ever actually used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire.

Emergency Preparedness VideosKeeping CERT Training Interesting With a “Movie Night”

The meeting went well! We had searched carefully on YouTube for short (4-5 minute) videos. Before showing each one, we prompted people to watch for a particular scene or to note the answer to a pertinent question.

Here are three of the videos we used for the program, along with the questions for each.

“Where is the nearest fire extinguisher to the room we are in right now?” “ Where’s the next nearest one?” “ Do you know if they have been recently checked?”  (We were in a large meeting room that had an extinguisher on the back wall. Only one person had already noted its location! No one knew where any other extinguisher was located.)

This particular video is aimed at employees in a work setting but applies just as well to residents of a home.

“Where are killer bees in the U.S.?” “Are there any where we live?” (I was prepared for this question and had downloaded an interactive graph that shows how bees have spread in the U.S. since 1990. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Killerbees_ani.gif )

“Are we located in an area likely to flood?” (Consider the Red River’s recent flooding in Louisiana!) “What about electric car windows?” “How do you break a window?” (One of our volunteers had a spring-loaded window breaker on his key chain, just like the one demonstrated in the video. You can see one here and get it in time for your own upcoming meeting: resqme The Original Keychain Car Escape Tool, Made in USA (Black) (Use it as a door prize — always popular! Or get several and share the fun.)

CERT As Entertainment?

One of the LinkedIn groups that I follow has been debating the necessity of sticking to CERT training as laid out by FEMA. Obviously, a meeting such as the one described here is not covered in the official training materials.

However, in my experience, there’s a difference between training for dedicated CERT graduates and awareness training for ordinary citizens.

Of course, those of us who are CERT graduates attend the follow-up trainings put on by our city. (Next week it’s a Light Search and Rescue refresher.)

But as a Neighborhood Emergency Response leader I am committed to my entire community. So we do what we can to attract all people and engage them in emergency preparedness activities.

Our Movie Night was one of those efforts.

Would something like this work for YOUR group? Try it, and let me know!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you haven’t yet heard, I pulled together over two dozen different meeting planning ideas for use by community leaders. You can get more info and order a copy at http://emergencyplanguide.org/CERT-meeting-ideas/

 

 

Hey CERT Trainers!

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
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A New Piece of Gear For Your Kit!

If you’re in charge of putting on neighborhood CERT meetings, you know what a challenge it is!

A good meeting pumps up the energy and attracts new members. A poor meeting – well, you can lose members overnight!

So searching for good meeting ideas goes on . . . and on.

Over the past 10 years, Joe and I have been either on the front lines or behind the scenes, planning meetings for our neighborhood group. That’s well over 100 meetings!

It recently occurred to me that buried in my computer is a treasure trove. I dug in, pulled together my notes, and wrote up some of the ideas for meetings that we’ve held successfully.

CERT Meeting Ideas, Emergency Plan Guide

From the trenches . . .!

Our best ideas have now been assembled into a 55 page ebook called CERT Meeting Ideas.

The ideas seem to have worked. We’ve had as many as 60 volunteer members in our community, and our teams have responded to five major emergencies (mostly construction related). We have received awards from the Mayor and local First Responders for our efforts.

What makes a good meeting?

Now, Joe and I are not professionally trained CERT instructors. But we know from business experience that good meetings have to have some valuable content, a delivery method that’s effective for your group, and, of course, a setting that works for both.

That’s what we’ve tried to put into every meeting.

Content is easy.

When it comes to emergency planning, there’s plenty of content. You can just page through the training manual and come up with stuff to learn more about on every page.

But we have learned, also from our business experience, that people resist being “taught.”

What they seem to want is to “experience” an activity so that it reinforces appropriate behavior in response to an emergency!

So it’s the delivery method that’s the bigger challenge.

Over our years of providing training, we have tried all kinds of methods, with these topping the list.

  • We have had guest speakers, and guest speakers with power point slide shows.
  • Neighbors have volunteered to get up and “show and tell” about a particular piece of emergency equipment.
  • We’ve watched videos featuring official CERT groups, professional industry association members and product manufacturers.
  • Getting outside onto the street, practicing finding and reporting on “emergencies,” is a lot of fun for active volunteers.
  • Kicking back in a social setting is also essential.

Finally, the setting has to work.

Our group has met in a variety of meeting rooms, in a temporary construction trailer, outside in a parking lot or on the street, and in people’s living rooms and driveways.

So, if you, like us, are looking for more ideas . . .

Based on discussions with some CERT alumni, and comments from online Facebook and LinkedIn groups, it seems that other trainers are searching, too.

If you’re responsible for planning meetings, I think you’ll like the detail. I list everything you’ll need and some places to find those speakers and that equipment. I describe how some activities were particularly well-received, and how some took some easing into!

The book isn’t free – but at $10 it’s close to free, and we will use the money to continue with more of our volunteer efforts. Find out more here.

Thanks,

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Neighborhood CERT — Don’t Overlook This Resource

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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A Fantastic Resource for your Neighborhood CERT Group

I try to keep feeding you with real-life stories about our neighborhood CERT group – what we do to attract volunteers, what works, what doesn’t. This is another chapter in the on-going saga.

And this one is a real success story.

Visit from the Fire Department

Last fall, at the first meeting after the summer break, our Homeowners Association invited the local fire station to send over some firefighters to talk about what to expect in the case of an earthquake. A big quake had hit Sonoma, in Northern California, just two months earlier, so everyone remembered the fires and the devastation, and was eager to talk about it anyway.

Earthquake Damage Slide Show

Slide Show

Since I was in charge of the agenda as President of the HOA (!), I took advantage of the situation.

First, I prepared a slide show for the fire department.

  • I used current news photos interspersed with a few other choice examples of failed foundations, street collapses and trashed home interiors.
  • I included special slides customized for our type of housing, our age group, etc.
  • I customized the slide show with THEIR logo and contact info.

The plan worked perfectly.

Result: Over 100 residents of our community showed up for the meeting.

While they came to see the firefighters, not to hear about emergency preparedness from our CERT group, they got our message!

Training session for the Fire Department

Then last week, the Captain of that local station called us, and asked if they could hold a training session for new recruits here in our community!

I’ll be writing more about how the training session went. The point of this Advisory — if you reach out to your local fire station, you are likely to get an enthusiastic response.

Make it easy for them

Response from your local fire department is likely to be even more enthusiastic if you –

  • Take the time to create an engaging and useful presentation for them – and give them the chance to edit and practice it. (As it turned out, the Captain we had been working with wasn’t able to make the meeting, so he passed the slide show on to a colleague and HE became our speaker. Smooth.)
  • Put them on the meeting agenda right up front, so they don’t have to wait through any business.
  • Provide a question and answer period. By and large, firefighters are eager to educate the public, and this is a great opportunity for them. Our crew brought handouts for everyone.

Naturally, planning with firefighter teams is tricky, because wherever they are, their radios are blipping and buzzing, and they could be called away at any moment.

And the main challenge, as always, is pulling together a large enough crowd to justify the crew taking time away from the station.

In our case, we have a community that is used to assembling for a monthly HOA meeting. You may need to combine forces with a local school or local church to find the right facility and attract enough people. But if you can, I think you’ll find both the crowd and the firefighters to be appreciative of your efforts.

And ultimately, lives may be saved. That’s really the point of it all!

Action Item: Set up a presentation from your local fire department for your group. Let us know how it goes!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Are you trying to build, or maintain, a local CERT group? Let me know in an email, and I’ll be sure you get all my tips for organizing.

 

 

Small Business No Brainer?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
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“News Item–If you own or work for a small business the odds of it surviving a major earthquake or weather event are 50/50 at best.”

Ignoring Reality of Small Business Disaster

Ignoring reality?

Around our household we have an item that we brand as “the ecology.” It’s actually a “sanitized” word for the sometimes-yukky vegetable garbage destined for the compost pile.

In the world of business, similar sanitizing goes on around the mess that can occur after a major disaster.

The first sanitized term that comes to mind is “Business Continuity.” “Business Continuation” runs a close second. By and large, these expressions are unfamiliar to employees and may be only vaguely understood by owners. (“Something to do with insurance?”)

When a catastrophe can result from something as simple as a backhoe cutting communications lines, it makes no sense to ignore emergency preparedness!

“Sanitizing” the way we think or talk about survival is plain foolish.

A Major Flaw

Large corporations put a great deal of effort into plans to preserve data and – in theory – protect their employees and physical premises. Whether or not their cumbersome plans are even read by staff is questionable, and the subject of another article.

When it comes to small businesses, only about 35% have even a rudimentary plan for how to prepare for and recover from an emergency. (Employee surveys show that employees are aware of this lack.)

Even when a small business does have a Continuation or Continuity Plan, most totally overlook their major asset: their people.

The False Assumption

Business owners seem to be operating on the assumption that their employees and suppliers will continue to be available in an emergency.

“We’ll just pitch in, clean up and get back to business.”

The reality is that everyone impacted by a catastrophe will be preoccupied with their own priorities. The business will take second place and may not even come into focus for hours or days.

It’s no wonder that most small or local businesses simply never reopen their doors after an emergency, or shut them down permanently within a couple of years.

Plugging the Hole

While there is no silver bullet, there are ways to improve your chances of survival. One of the best ways is also often the least expensive. It’s called CERT.

Many cities in the U.S. have an emergency management department and many provide free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, in conjunction with FEMA. If your city doesn’t offer the training, it is on line at the FEMA site. (https://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams/about-community-emergency-response-team)

An astute business owner or senior manager recognizes the conflict of priorities between work and family. Supporting CERT training for employees has benefits for all:

  • CERT training starts with security for the family. The sooner employees are confident that their families are O.K., the faster they can turn their attention back to work.
  • The same survival skills learned in CERT work for neighborhood groups and work teams.
  • A CERT-trained employee is likely to have honed communication and teamwork skills that benefit many areas of the business’s day-to-day operations.

Everybody Wins With CERT Training

Why are city and county governments so willing to put on this training for businesses and communities at little or no cost?

Simple. Trained citizens and prepared businesses have a 500% better chance of survival in a catastrophe.

That means less pressure on the First Responders and Disaster Recovery Operations in the aftermath. It means fewer deaths from “spontaneous” untrained volunteer efforts. And the big benefit is the continued tax revenues that support the community.

No matter how you look at it, Business Continuation Planning and CERT training for citizens and employees is a win-win situation. It should be a no brainer for any business owner.

Ready to start the conversation about emergency training in your own business?

We’ve put together a one-page pdf to get you started. It’s free.

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Planning for Emergencies – “Survey Says . . .”

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
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Two weeks ago I sent out a survey to my various Emergency Plan Guide subscribers.

Only two questions resulted in any real intelligence.

Emergency Plan Guide Surv eyThe first interesting question made me really pleased. The image shows the question and the result: 100% of the respondents trusted the information on the site “a great deal” or “a lot.”

The second interesting question was the very last one, where we asked people to let us know what they want more of in upcoming Advisories. Here the answers were totally diverse.

Some people wanted pure survival information.

Others were looking for ideas to help them organize CERT groups. (One CERT group was in a medical facility!)

So we fall back on our original assumptions regarding our audience, assumptions that have been upheld via comments we’ve received. And to continue with the questions . . .

Do you fit into one of these categories?

  1. Preppers – Make preparations to get through an emergency or a disaster (caused by weather, societal turmoil, etc.) by relying on their own stockpiled supplies and skills.
  2. Survivalists – Prepare to survive a long-term, total breakdown of society, probably as a result of anarchy. Survivalists endorse and practice traditional wilderness survival skills including use of weapons, traps, emergency shelter, etc.
  3. Homesteaders – Look to the land to be self-sufficient as a regular lifestyle. Homesteaders grow crops and preserve them; they may also craft their own materials and tools.
  4. Professional Emergency Responders and Planners – Formally trained to respond to and manage emergencies of different types and intensities. These include First Responders (firefighters, police, emergency personnel), leaders within city or government agencies, and staff of the Big Daddy of them all, the Federal Emergency Management Association (since 2003, part of Homeland Security).

Where do we fit?

Over the years Joe and I have absorbed good info from all these groups!  (Actually, our interest in preparedness started when we were children. My parents were pioneers in Alaska in the 30s and I inherited their attitudes along with their stories. And Joe survived on urban streets by himself as a child – yet another skill set.)

At Emergency Plan Guide, we have ended up finding a niche that doesn’t seem to get a lot of sustained attention.

We are Team Builders.

We tend to like – and want to trust — people. We enjoy being part of a bigger team. And nearly every news story we hear makes it clear that in the case of a widespread emergency, it’s the people physically closest to you who will make the difference to your survival!

Yes, your “immediate survival team” will be made up of your neighbors or your co-workers.

We can’t count on strangers to have any particular skills or understanding. But we can and should count on neighbors and co-workers to have (1) basic knowledge, (2) some practiced responses and (3) a readiness to pitch in.

So let me ask you for a bit more follow-up.  Can you reply to this Advisory and let us know which group from those described above fits you the best? Or do you fit into another category altogether?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Joe Krueger and Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you get this in an email, you can contact us here to let us know more about who you are and what you want.

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities or Special Health Needs

Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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Overlooked or Abandoned?

Every week I get one or another Google Alert about some group that is either not taking care of itself in an emergency or that has been overlooked by “the authorities.”

In our community CERT group, we do not have the where-with-all to take care of neighbors with disabilities. We don’t have specialized medical knowledge, or (expensive) specialized equipment or even the physical stamina to lift or move some of them. But . . .

We are aware of our neighbors and do our best to keep their needs in mind . . .

as we work on building our – and their — readiness to respond in the face of a disaster. As you build your own neighborhood group, here are

Some questions to ask:

Evacuation sign for disabled.

from Lee Wilson, founder at The Egress Group. More at http://accessibleexitsigns.com/

Shelter-in-Place.  When a heavy storm hits, the best course for most people is to shelter in place, assuming they have stored food, clothing, etc.  The questions to ask your disabled neighbors:

  1. Do you have food supplies that you are able to prepare for yourself (canned food, water) or do you depend on regular food deliveries from Meals on Wheels or other food service?
  2. Do you use any electric or electronic devices to treat a chronic condition, such as breathing treatments or sleeping machines? What plans do you have for back-up power? (Oxygen tanks, battery back-up)

Needed travel.  Do any of your neighbors need regular trips away from their home to get medical treatments like as kidney dialysis? In a severe weather situation, can your neighbor answer these questions:

  1. Do you know what to do if you are unable to reach your doctor for several days? (diet, hydration)
  2. Do you know where to go for treatment if your local clinic is closed? (addresses of alternate locations)
  3. Who would come to get you for dialysis if your regular caregiver isn’t available?
  4. What if the elevator isn’t working?

Evacuation.  In the case of an evacuation, many people who may not appear disabled may need assistance.  For example, people who are hard of hearing might not recognize the signal to evacuate. People with difficulty walking might not be able to negotiate stairs. People who can walk may not be able to handle door handles or locks. Questions to ask:

  1. Does our building/community have evacuation signage that incorporates signage for disabled people? (visual? touchable?)
  2. Is there a plan to find people ready and able to assist disabled people to evacuate?
  3. Is specialized evacuation equipment necessary, and available?

Practice and planning do make a difference.

The National Fire Protection Association’s 2007 Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities tells the following story.

During the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, a man with a mobility impairment was working on the 69th floor. With no plan or devices in place, it took over six hours to evacuate him. In the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the same man had prepared himself to leave the building using assistance from others and an evacuation chair he had acquired and had under his desk. It only took 1 hour and 30 minutes to get him out of the building this second time. 

Perhaps you can share this story with friends and with your CERT team to stimulate some creative thinking.

 

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Forward this email to someone you know who could use the information.  One out of five Americans has some sort of disability.

 

 

The Secret to Surviving a Neighborhood Disaster

Sunday, September 21st, 2014
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. . . Goes Against Current Fashion

Every week survivalists and preppers spend millions of dollars on “survival gear” — including tents, flashlights, generators, radios, firearms and more. Do you ever think you should be doing this, too?

Survival Mentality

Your survival mentality?

But take a moment to consider this. If your efforts are all to prepare your family to “pull up the drawbridge” and “defend the castle,” you will be ignoring, if not actively alienating, the very group that will be in the best position to save you!

Who is that? It’s your immediate neighbors!

Remember Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? It was hours or even days before official help got to many neighborhoods!

Lives were saved by neighbors helping neighbors.

Most lives are lost in the first 15-30 minutes.

Regardless of how prepared you are with emergency supplies, the first 15 to 30 minutes following a disaster are the most critical if you are trapped in a burning house, under fallen debris or in a mud flow.

And the only people on the scene capable of helping will be your immediate neighbors.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings that are available in many communities around the Country teach citizens how to best protect themselves and help their neighbors.

But in most cases – especially in more highly populated areas – the CERT training falls short of organizing trained members into functioning neighborhood units.

It’s up to you to organize your own neighborhood groups!

What about the aftermath?

Yes, you can store water, food and medicine to tide you over for the days or weeks it takes for the government and support organizations to recover.

But what good is it if your neighbors don’t do the same?

Are you prepared to fend off neighbors at gun point to protect your own supplies? Or are you going to stand by and watch them starve or die?

This is a terrible situation that you need to think long and hard about, because it could easily happen.

Once again, it’s up to you to remind your neighbors to build emergency supplies.

How to get your neighbors involved?  You can start by asking yourself, and then sharing with them, these important survival questions.

In an emergency, wouldn’t it be better if you knew . . .

  • The neighbors on either side of you, across the hall or across the street?
  • Are they families or individuals?
  • How many children do they have?
  • Where are family members normally during the day?
  • Are there any disabled members of the family?
  • What part of the house do people sleep in?
  • If people are missing at night, where would you look for them?
  • Do your neighbors know what part of your house you sleep in?
  • Would they know where to look for you in the middle of the night following an earthquake or tornado?
  • How long would it take them to find you?
  • Would you still be alive when they do find you?

In an emergency, you are your neighbors’ keeper – and they are yours.

Our current American emphasis on rugged individualism, our concerns for privacy, our worries about interfering – these views must be re-examined in the face of preparing for a neighborhood disaster.

 

Joseph Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Share this post with your Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, to get their reaction.  And let us know how it is received!

How secure is your job?

Saturday, September 6th, 2014
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Small business no emergency planGot a flyer in the mail, today. On the front, this statistic:

  • 94% of small business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next two years!

And then, reading on a bit further:

  • 74% of small businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan.
  • An estimated 40% of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster.

So if you own or work for a small business, let me ask you,

Just how secure do you think your job is?!

The chances that you DO work for a small business are pretty good. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 99.7 percent of all businesses had fewer than 500 workers, and 89.8 percent of them had fewer than 20 workers!

So combine the statistics from the flyer with the statistics from the government, and you can see why I am addressing this message to the small business owners and employees in the big bucket.

Disaster Preparedness Academy

But back to the flyer that started this off. It is a promotion for a 2-day conference being held in October in Anaheim, California (home of Disneyland – one of the sponsors).

The DPA has been in business for some 30 years; this year’s Academy presents 23 workshops in eight tracks.  Two of the tracks are specifically for business: Workplace Preparedness and Workplace Recovery. 

Some of the sessions for business:

  • Communicating the Unexpected “through the chaos”
  • Maximizing Your Disaster Cost Recovery; Lessons from Joplin, MO. (“Cost recovery can last years . . .”)
  • Where Do Your Emergency Management Professional Skills Stack Up? (“Are you beginning, intermediate or advanced?”)

Other tracks include Seismic Safety, Terrorism/Active Shooter and School/University Preparedness.

Now, I would certainly attend this conference if they offered a “trade show floor only” ticket.  (That’s often the most valuable part of any conference, in my opinion!) The list of presenters – 27 of them – is impressive, and the cost is reasonable: under $250 for the two days.

Getting out of the big bucket

But the question I have for you today is . . .

What is YOUR business doing to get out of the big bucket that is NOT prepared, and into the smaller bucket – that is, the bucket of businesses that have emergency plans, have invested in emergency supplies, and practice emergency training on a regular basis?

If you think you’re still in the big bucket, there’s a lot you can do, even if you don’t own the business. For example, you can . . .

  • Find out about conferences being held in your local area and ask if someone from the company is attending. If not, ask if you can attend.
  • Sign up on your own for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training either with a local group or online. If you can get a whole team interested, they may put on a course just for your company!
  • Download our Emergency Plan Guide Seven-Steps poster, talk it up and post it up in the coffee room. http://emergencyplanguide.org/work/seven-steps/

Something’s going to happen one of these days.

At the risk of being too blunt, I can say that you will feel pretty dumb if you have done nothing to prepare your company to survive an emergency.  And you’ll feel even worse when you and your family discover you are out of a job.

Let’s work on creating awareness and action together. Let us know what YOU are doing this week to raise the issue of emergency preparedness at work by leaving a comment in the box!

We are ALL looking forward to what you have to say!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

 

 

Walkie-Talkies for Emergency Neighborhood Communications

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
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“I read you loud and clear.”

Every month, on the second Wednesday at 6 p.m., our neighborhood CERT group clicks on their two-way radios and gets ready to participate in the radio drill.

Radios or Walkie=talkies

Compare sizes of these walkie-talkies to the smart phone in the center of the collection; read about them on our REVIEW page.

The first check-in takes place at the Division level, when the Division Leader checks with 10 or so Block Captains. It’s a quick call: “Division 5 Leader calling Block Captain 5 Alpha. Do you read?” and a quick answer, “Five Alpha reads loud and clear.” Takes less than 7 minutes.

After the Block Captains check in, the Division Leaders and Special Teams (Search and Rescue, First Aid, etc.) switch to the Community Channel and participate in their own roll-call. Another 7 minutes.

What we accomplish with these radio drills is three-fold:

  1. Radios are checked to be sure they are functioning. (If someone forgets to turn the radio off, then when the next month rolls around that radio’s batteries are dead!)
  2. Everyone gets practice using the radios, the channel assignments, and the lingo. (It seems easy to say “Five Leader” or “Five Delta” but non-native English speakers, in particular, need to practice.)
  3. We get reassurance that our community is intact and participating!

Just about a month ago Southern California experienced a 5.3 quake at about 8 p.m. On that evening, CERT group participants grabbed their radios and ran outside to check how neighbors had fared. I stood there in the dark, and soon came the voice of one of my team members, “This is Cheryl, Five Charlie. Is anyone there?” (Protocol slips a bit when there’s a real emergency.)

Cheryl and I were able to discuss our block and ascertain that all was well. I then switched to the Community Channel to check in, and sure enough, other Division Leaders were doing the same thing.

The point is, this simple communications plan worked, worked well, and worked fast. No dialing, no waiting, no ringing, no busy signals, no leaving of messages. Just push to talk.

“I read you loud and clear.”

Take a look at our new review of Walkie-Talkies, just published yesterday. I think you’ll find it interesting and valuable. And let me know if YOU have Walkie-Talkie stories to share. Til then, “Over and Out.”

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Emergency Training – How To Attract An Expert

Saturday, March 29th, 2014
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Need some ideas for planning neighborhood meetings?

Below is a list of 15 emergency training topics.

And they’re not just mine.

Expert emergency training

Get expert training for your team.

As you know, I’ve had a Google Alert set up for a while. Actually, two of them, one for “Emergency Preparedness” and one for “Disaster Recovery.” I get about 10 alerts a day about what’s happening around the country.

Most of the alerts are press releases mentioning a person who’s been hired for a new position.

But others announce trainings. Take a look at the following list that I collected in just the last two weeks!

  • Dump catches fire
  • Airport Emergency Plan
  • Snow Emergency Plan
  • Snow Emergency Route Plan
  • Test of Emergency Sirens
  • Training on Emergency Apps
  • Hospital Ground Zero for Shooter Drill
  • Committee moves toward oil disaster preparedness
  • National Hurricane Conference Announces Amateur Radio Sessions for 2014:
  • Indiana University says glitch found during test of emergency alert system has been fixed
  • Catawba Nuclear Power Plant tests terrorism
  • Local, state officials advise: Prepare for flooding
  • State, feds to create tsunami strategy guides for Calif. harbors
  • Attleboro, state emergency agencies plan to offer booklets in Braille
  • Chemical safety becomes focus of neighborhood watch

Which of these might be helpful for your community?

Track down a “guest expert” for your neighborhood group.

Prepare with a few “talking points.”

  1. Jot down a few bullet points about what you’re looking for: topic, length of presentation, where, dates available.
  2. Be ready to describe your audience: how many of them, ages and circumstances.
  3. Then get on the phone:
  • Call the Police Department or Fire Department to find out whom they would recommend.
  • Call the local Red Cross office, same question.
  • Is there a college or university in town? A strategic all to their administrative offices might lead you to your speaker.

This isn’t a complete list, by any means. But if others are getting this specialized training, why shouldn’t you?! All it takes is persistence.

Last month our group had a guest speaker on earthquakes.

Timely, too. In just the past 24 hours we’ve had three of them here in Southern California!

Preparedness is awareness. Let a good guest speaker raise the level of awareness in YOUR neighborhood.

What would be first on YOUR list if you could get an expert?  Let us know your thoughts!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

And if you are having any difficulty finding that speaker, contact me and we can brainstorm together. I’ve been “programs chair” for lots of different organizations!