Tag: community preparedness

Can you trust your fire extinguisher?

Comparing fire extinguishers

Comparing fire extinguishers. How long will they last? Are they rechargeable?

Your CERT investment

How are you using your CERT training? (Check all that apply.)

  • I’m adding more and better gear to my green CERT bag.
  • I’m working on immediate family members to develop better “situational awareness.” Not always with much success.
  • When the subject comes up, I encourage neighbors and co-workers to take the training.
  • I have joined a neighborhood emergency response group.
  • I have decided to START a neighborhood emergency response group.

As you may have gathered by now, Joe and I don’t think getting CERT training is enough. Oh, yes, it’s valuable.

But “saving” it just for yourself or your family is like getting a double barreled shotgun and only ever using one barrel. Or getting bunk beds and only ever sleeping in one. Or getting . . . well, you can come up with another example of letting half of a really good thing go to waste!

In this case, it’s wasting all the good information that will help OTHER PEOPLE save themselves in a disaster.

Because that’s our philosophy, we’re always thrilled when we hear from people that they have made a successful effort to share good information.

A Better Return on Investment

Two weeks ago I heard from an Emergency Plan Guide Advisory reader that her mobilehome park was having a big Disaster Team meeting with several speakers. She reported that over 70 people had already signed up! Why? . . . free pizza, salad and beverages provided by Park Management!

Naturally that news made me want to share the meeting that we held last week in our community. We didn’t get 70, but almost that many people. And what made it different was the sponsorship of our local hardware store.

Plan a successful emergency response team meeting

Over the years I’ve written up “lesson plans” for neighborhood meetings and events. So here’s another one that perhaps you can use to “spread the word” in your own community. If the woman in the picture actually buys a fire extinguisher, we may have saved a home — or even a neighboring home!

All the meeting ideas presented in the Meeting Idea Books follow the same format:

  • Title
  • Objective
  • Procedure
  • Materials Needed
  • Comment

Title: We can call this one: “Building a Stronger Community.”

Objective: To encourage people to pick up a few everyday tools and equipment appropriate for day-to-day repairs AND emergencies.

Procedure: Joe and I approached the manager of our local Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) about putting on a special “pilot” program for our community. We wanted to get people to the store to buy some important emergency preparedness items.

After a tour of the store, and a number of discussions with OSH and our team leaders, we agreed on the following format:

  • We would promote a “show and tell” meeting at our clubhouse.
  • The store would send a sales person to our meeting along with a number of examples of emergency equipment – fire extinguishers, multi-tools, lanterns and flashlights, smoke alarms, pre-built emergency kits, etc.
  • Members of our neighborhood team would also bring and demonstrate emergency items they own – pet container and pet survival kit, headlamps, various bottled water supplies, etc.
  • Nothing would be for sale. Rather, all attendees would receive a one-time DISCOUNT COUPON. All they had to do is take it to the store, shop from their list, and get the discount at the counter.
  • We’d have a door prize and refreshments.

Materials needed: The store selected (with our input) all the items they wanted to show, and brought them complete with price tags. Our team members brought their own things, some of which were not available at OSH. All we needed to create from scratch were the various promotional items for the meeting – flyers, newsletter article, email announcement – and the discount coupon. For the meeting itself we needed several tables for display, cups and napkins for the refreshments, plus two microphones (one for the M/C, one for the person doing the demonstration).

Comment: Our goal was to host a “community meeting” and not a commercial for the store. We made sure all advertising emphasized our Emergency Response Group. And having a mix of OSH and team speakers and show and tell items kept everything well balanced.

As much as I thought this meeting might be “ho hum,” (How many times can you talk about fire extinguishers?!) we got more than the usual number of thank you notes! We kept the speakers on track. And afterwards people crowded around the tables to pick up and examine ALL the articles, including those fire extinguishers and packets of water!

We haven’t heard yet about sales success, but I did send the store some ideas for follow-up meetings plus bullet points for a press release.

All in all, the meeting did what I hoped it would do – reach out to some new neighbors, introduce some new emergency preparedness ideas, and above all, demonstrate that we are a community and as a community – the more we all know, the safer we all will be!

If you are trying to come up with an idea for a meeting in your neighborhood or perhaps at work, try a variation on this one.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. We have held similar events in the past. At one meeting some years ago, The Home Depot and Costco both came and took orders that they delivered a week later.

P.P.S. Fire extinguishers were the hot item at that earlier meeting, too!