Tag: community

Get something going with neighbors!

Neighbors getting together on rooftop planning for summer preparedness activities
Does your neighborhood look like this? Every neighborhood is different – but neighbors are neighbors!

We’re seeing our neighbors again for the first time in a LONG time!

Three weeks ago I went to my first face-to-face, no-masks meeting since mid-March 2020. After 14 months of being shut-in at home, I felt almost giddy! That was the first such meeting. Since then, I’ve been part of two more. It’s been invigorating! In fact, a desire to “Get something new going!” seems to be catching!

In case you’re ready to get something going, too, here is an idea for  spreading the preparedness word.

Write and share a personal story about disaster!

I was encouraged to write just such a story when I saw an invitation on LinkedIn. It came from Mark Keim, MD, one of the emergency preparedness professionals I follow. He had put out a Help Wanted blurb, asking for personal stories to include as part of a series on his website, DisasterDoc.org. The website is a comprehensive one, focused on preventing public health emergencies around the world.

I submitted my story, and it was accepted! It is another look at what happened to us and our neighbors last year when we were threatened by a wildfire. You may want to give this version a quick read on the DisasterDoc blog, particularly if you are working with any fire departments or city emergency management agencies. For sure, evacuation will be on the danger list for many this summer!

Virginia Nicols' article announced on LinkedIn

The picture shows how my article was announced on LinkedIn. And here’s the link to the website blog page where the article appears: https://disasterdoc.org/blog/

While you’re there, be sure to read Mark’s post titled “How a children’s book saved my life!” That personal story is what caught my attention in the first place.

OK, with all that background, here’s my own HELP WANTED blurb, and your chance to get something new going!

Let’s hear YOUR story of an experience you’ve had working with neighbors in an emergency or preparing for one.

You wouldn’t be reading this if it didn’t matter to you what happens to other people in an emergency. Why do I know that?  Because anyone interested in preparedness knows you can’t really prepare all by yourself!

After all, when the hurricane hits, and your home is threatened by storm surge, so is every home around you. When the power goes out, what your neighbors do – or likely don’t do – comes right back to haunt you!

Here’s an excerpt from Elizabeth’s story about neighborhood preparedness.

Elizabeth wrote to me just a couple of weeks ago about having helped plan and practice an evacuation of her Northern California mobilehome park neighborhood – in advance of this summer’s wildfire season.

Her intro sentence was . . .“Well, we had our modified, practice Evacuation Drill last weekend and if I do say so myself, it went off rather well.”

Her report went on to talk about who participated and who didn’t, how many people had Go-bags at the ready, what a difference the donut hole snacks made.

She further reported — and this is key — that “Volunteers on almost every street offered to help disabled folks, notify them, and help them get out of the park. That is still a big issue! Where does personal responsibility start? Where does it end? What responsibility do we have for our neighbors?

Great, eh? What story can you share? Maybe . . .

  • You took a great Red Cross class or finished a refresher course? (The takeaway?)
  • You’ve met with just a few neighbors to find out where the gas line shut-offs are? (What prompted it?)
  • You’ve planned emergency drills with teachers at your kid’s school? (Were your efforts welcomed?)
  • You made it through the Texas power outage? (What helped?)
  • You’re an EMT and have a story to share about your team? (Heroes all!)

We’d love to know what you and your neighbors have done, or are doing, to be safer and smarter in the face of emergencies.

Nothing works like real stories to give the rest of us encouragement and ideas!

Just drop me an email with your idea! We’ll make sure you get your story written and published here as part of our “Get something going with neighbors” focus for the summer!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Many websites managed by “regular folks” are devoted to prepping, wilderness survival skills, etc. We do a lot of that too, but what we do that sets Emergency Plan Guide apart is getting the wider community involved. This Advisory is another effort to do that – and your story will help!

Get Your Community Involved In Disaster Preparedness


You’ve seen this again and again.  “The more prepared your neighbors are, the safer you will be!” If this makes sense to you, and you want to do something about it, consider putting on a Community Preparedness Fair.

The Home DepotThe Home Depot – the place to start

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a Google Alert set for the words “Emergency Preparedness” and “Disaster Preparedness.” Every day I get notices of community programs – typically sponsored by city governments – aimed at raising awareness about emergency planning.

But every once in a while, I see something else tucked in the list. That is, an announcement of a “Community Fair” being supported by The Home Depot.

Sponsor or participant, or both

Sometimes the store takes the lead in putting on a sort of expo. Sometimes the store is one of several related organizations participating. For example, from today’s Google Alert:

“San Bernardino County (California) residents wanting to be better prepared for disasters may attend a community safety fair Saturday in Fontana. The fair, organized by Home Depot, San Bernardino County Disaster Corps and San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Office of Emergency Services, will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Home Depot store. “

“The East 1488 Community Association and East 1488 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) (Houston, Texas) will hold its fourth annual Emergency Preparedness Fair on Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Home Depot Parking lot. Booths will have information and displays by first responders and emergency related organizations.”

Earlier, I saw this reference to the Lake Arrowhead (Cherokee County, Georgia) Preparedness Fair: “Come see a huge collection of Emergency Responders, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Amateur Radio Communications, and community emergency response personnel and equipment (subject to availability) along with dozens of vendors specializing in emergency preparedness, disaster response, and household safety. Home Depot is sponsoring the Safe Kids Fun Zone.”

Could your neighborhood team plan and execute a community fair?

From a neighborhood safety standpoint, this is one of the most effective things you could do to raise awareness and stimulate preparedness in your community. If I were tasked with putting on another such fair, The Home Depot is where I’d start.

We put on such a fair about a year ago. And yes, The Home Depot was our major sponsor. They brought their own tables, set up samples of preparedness items, took orders for them, and a couple of weeks later actually made one big delivery to our clubhouse!  Our local CERT then sorted and distributed everything.

If you are part of a group, consider putting a preparedness expo on your calendar. It may take several months to plan, but the results will be far-reaching. Start by talking to the manager of your local Home Depot store. I can bet you’ll find good support there.

(If you are truly interested, I’d be happy to share some of the planning steps that we went through. Just drop me a line in the comment box below.)


Other resources for community organizing:

CERT training

Organize your Neighborhood

Building a CERT Group — Identifying Leaders