Tag: emergency equipment

Financing Neighborhood Emergency Equipment Purchases – Updated

heavy emergency equipment
Something your group needs???

Emergency equipment can be expensive!

Considering an equipment purchase for your neighborhood group?  Something BIG, like in the image above?

Not that you’re considering purchasing a log mover — I used the picture because it makes the point.  This probably isn’t something you could afford by yourself.  You certainly wouldn’t want to buy it and have it sitting around “just in case.”

But what if your group does need neighborhood emergency equipment?

On one hand, buying as a group makes it easier.

If you are part of a group, you can look at buying big items from a different perspective.

  • You and your neighbors can get access to items you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
  • Your neighborhood can achieve a whole new level of resilience.
  • Sharing in the purchase decision automatically creates a stronger network of neighborhood first responders!

However, big purchases are not all about big benefits.

Neighborhood emergency equipment decisions take a lot more thought.

For example, here are some of the decisions you’ll have to make about that purchase:

  • Who will be the named owner – for tax purposes, for registration purposes, etc.?
  • Which neighbor/s will be responsible for maintenance and repairs?
  • Where will the equipment be stored and who will have access?

Here’s some of what we’ve experienced when we started buying materials for the group.

Some people don’t want to play.

People may be willing to show up to meetings. But being a member of the group isn’t enough to make everyone volunteer to spend money for the group’s welfare.

Honestly, we have found nothing that will change a “me” focus to an “us” focus. It’s either there, or it isn’t. So, if some of your group members seem unwilling to participate in group purchases, after appealing a couple of times to the concepts of cooperation and mutual support, you’ll have to let them go their own way.

Others are willing to buy for themselves and share when necessary.

The shared ladder

In our local neighborhood, when we began to organize our group, it just so happened that we were already “sharing” a number of items. For example, Joe and I had a tall extension ladder that was left behind (too tough to pack) when a neighbor moved. The ladder ended up behind our house (see the photo!), and was used by any of a handful of people on the street. They just came and got it and brought it back when they were done.

After our first neighborhood emergency equipment inventory, we discovered that one contractor neighbor stores a heavy duty pry bar (six feet long) that he would be willing to share. Another neighbor has a pair of giant shears, good for breaking open chained gates. We have solar battery chargers.

We all learned about these items, and where they are located, and in an emergency we plan to share for the benefit of the group.

Getting money for “REALLY BIG” purchases.

When it comes to more expensive items, you may have to look at other options for financing them. Whatever you decide on, start now to put together your “wish list” of equipment your group could use effectively. Your list will be different from other groups’ lists. Just the action of making the list will involve more people and likely uncover creative ways to turn it into reality.

Option One – Funding from within the local community.

In our case, thanks to a committed and enlightened homeowners’ association board, our emergency team gets money every month via association dues. Emergency Plan Guide readers who are renters have told us their groups have received financial support from their property owners.

Some of our readers are members of groups incorporated as non-profits – and they have been the recipients of donations from local stores and local insurance companies. One group buys and resells radios at a profit.

Option Two – Funding from local or national grants.

Naturally we have looked for grant money. As a community we’ve been the grateful recipient of a grant co-sponsored by the Fire Department and First Alert. Three years ago, over a 2-day period, our team helped install donated smoke alarms in every single residence in the neighborhood!

As for getting grants on our own, we have had no luck so far. We have researched — and here’s some of what we have discovered.

  • It helps,  and often is required, that you be an established group, with an official non-profit status, ID number, etc. Federal (FEMA) grants usually go only to official government agencies – fire departments, etc.
  • Private foundations usually have a specific focus (which may change from year to year) and may have a minimum award that is higher than you can justify asking for.
  • Your request for money to solve a particular need with a one-time purchase of equipment — for example, communications equipment for handicapped or senior members – may be more positively received than a request for money for operations.
  • Many grants are announced on a specific date. The organizations involved have a strict application procedure that may take months, so you need to start your investigation now. (See this Advisory about the grants from State Farm.)
  • Your city may offer grants for specific activities. And, of course, your city or county may offer CERT training to all your group members, with no real strings attached.

Remember that grants, unlike donations, always come with strings attached. You have to meet the grant’s requirements and then show that you spent the money the way you promised you would.

Option Three — Sponsoring a fundraiser for your group.

This is the tried and true way for any community group to raise money – money they can spend any way they like. There are SO MANY ideas of how to put on a good fundraiser!  You could probably write this section of the Advisory yourself!

Here are a few questions to get the conversation started . . .

What’s the purpose for the fundraiser?  Sometimes it’s easier to have one specific goal (“$450 for walkie-talkies for our group”) rather than a generic “support our group” message.

Who would be a natural partner for the fundraiser?  Usually, this means a commercial entity that would benefit from the exposure, or from direct sales. We have had good luck getting support from emergency equipment manufacturers and local hardware stores. If the commercial group is going to sell their products, you’ll have to figure out how your group will benefit!

What will attract visitors and make them want to pull money out of their pockets!

  1. Fun fair! If your audience has kids, parents will bring them along if there is plenty for kids to do! (“Oh, a good Saturday afternoon outing for the family.”) In all the years I’ve done events, the ONE MOST POPULAR ACTIVITY has always been “Spin the wheel and win!”  Obviously this requires a wheel, lots of little prizes, and a few big ones!
  2. Bake sale – always popular in a venue where there’s lots of foot traffic
  3. Ice cream social – Get donated supplies!
  4. Yard sale with proceeds to benefit the group. (Combine with other community event or annual sale?)
  5. Speaker/local band willing to perform for the publicity
  6. Raffle for a great prize (Be sure you know the GAMBLING RULES for your state!)

What sort of location do we need, and where can we find it?

Do we have the equipment we’ll need? Tents, tables, chairs, microphone

How will we manage publicity?

What and how many volunteers do we need, what skills, with what schedule?

You’ll find many more resources online or at the library. If you would like a copy of my own well-tested Master List for Event Planning, just drop me a line!

How we’ve made neighborhood emergency equipment purchases for our own group.

Over the years we’ve held events like the ones suggested above. Some were really profitable — like when we sold a bunch of donated furniture at a yard sale. Others were barely profitable. But with the help of fund raisers plus budget from our HOA, our group has purchased medical supplies, walkie-talkies and their batteries, and pop-up tents. Our group also owns two natural gas “sniffers,” two refrigerators, a generator,  a portable loud-speaker, three loud-hailers and some big floodlights. (We have chosen not to store food or water. We encourage our families to manage their own supplies for sheltering in place.)

Naturally, it takes an organized campaign to get a financial commitment of ANY SORT. In our case,

  • We apply professional marketing planning and presentations. (Joe’s and my background is in direct marketing!)
  • Fortunately, we have a couple of neighbors who love the challenge of coming up with donated gift cards!
  • A couple of our members have jumped in to take on money management.
  • Other members are enthusiastic HAM radio operators, and they provide guidance and training for the rest of us.
  • Working with the fire department makes it possible for us to get a ladder truck and fire engine once in a while for “show and tell!”

Working together, we have been able to get financing for the big equipment we’ve needed so far for our group. It will take another Advisory to discuss how we set the priorities for using the equipment!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. What sorts of fund-raisers have you been successful with?  Let us all know by jumping down below the subscribe info and leaving a comment!

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!

Emergency Radio Update


Panasonic Emergency Radio

How old do you think this radio is?

Radios — The Most Popular Piece of Emergency Gear

More of our readers “invest” in emergency radios than in any other one piece of emergency equipment. (Makes sense, of course. Without a reliable emergency radio, when disaster hits you could be completely cut off. Without a good emergency radio, you may not even know that a disaster is COMING!)

Because of this interest, we continually comment on what to look for when you’re shopping for a radio. And we regularly update our Best Emergency Radios review page to be sure the radios listed there are still available.

So it’s time for yet another radio update.

Status of our long-time favorite emergency radio

The Ambient Weather Adventurer, original cost around $30, has been our favorite for a while. We own more than one, and many of our readers have them, too. It’s a great radio to tuck into your pack or simply have on the kitchen counter.

Bad news! This model seems to have been discontinued. Here and there online you can find one for sale, but their prices make no sense! I saw one yesterday at $281!

So we aren’t recommending this model anymore. (Maybe you want to try to sell yours for a profit???)

New favorite, the Eton FRX5

Eton makes several different radios, and the brand carries a number of labels including one from the American Red Cross.

The FRX3 costs about $10 more than the original Ambient Weather, and has most of the very same features.

The one we’re recommending today, though, is the Model FRX5.  It costs nearly twice as much, but for that you get double the power, more lighting options, the ability to charge a smart phone, capture localized emergency alerts, etc.

Here’s a link to the radio: Eton FRX5 Hand Crank Emergency Weather Radio with SAME Alerts

And here’s what it looks like:

This is a very compact radio, just over 7 inches tall and a couple of inches wide. It operates on battery, AC, solar and crank. In fact, this radio earned the best score in a recent test measuring how much listen time was created by 2 minutes of cranking. (In this case, something like 10-12 minutes.)

What I like is the SAME Alert feature — stands for Specific Area Message Encoding. You enter in your county and the radio will automatically send alerts for that area.  (Seems to me this would be essential in Tornado Alley of the U.S.!)

When you click the link above, you’ll go directly to Amazon. Scroll down to the bottom of the Amazon page for a full description of this radio, with several more photos.

First time radio purchaser? Get answers to 7 important questions.

If you haven’t yet added a radio to your survival supplies, check out the Eton model above. Just click on the blue link to get started.

If you have NEVER shopped for an emergency radio before, go first to our Best Emergency Radio Reviews page because you’ll find there the 7 questions you need to consider before adding a radio to your pack, or to the survival kit of any of your family members. And you’ll see a number of other radios that we have reviewed and recommend.

The radio we would upgrade to if we were flush

I’ve mentioned before that we have an old Panasonic shortwave radio. (Joe’s had it ever since we’ve been together, and that’s over 33 years now, so its age is something older than that!) That’s the radio in the picture at the top of this page. Joe was changing the batteries, which explains the red ribbons at the bottom.

We have hauled this radio from coast to coast and back again, and Joe loves it.

Yesterday Joe handed me a spec sheet for the radio he would LIKE to have. It’s also available at Amazon, and also made by Eton. As far as I am concerned, it certainly looks a lot like the old Panasonic (!), but . . .Joe assures me that it’s “the ultimate” in radio receivers. It gets AM, FM, Aircraft, Longwave and Shortwave bands, has a rotating antenna plus you can tune-in stations by keying them in or searching for them. You can actually store 1000 stations!

If you’re really serious about emergency radios, check this one out.

Alert – Prices for the SAME RADIO vary considerably. Shop carefully to get the best deal!

Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate AM/FM Stereo also Receives Shortwave, Longwave and Aircraft Bands – Black (NGSAT750B)

And doesn’t it look a LOT like the Panasonic collector item above?

You need at least one emergency radio, and probably several. The good thing about radios is you can select the features you need (for each use or each person) and not have to buy features you don’t want, and you’ll save by choosing carefully.

Do you already have an emergency radio? Would you recommend it?  Let us know in the comments!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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Welcome to the World of Drones


Available for immediate delivery from Amazon . . . just click on the link to get full details!

Below left, white drone, at around $1,000: DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with FPV HD Video Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal.

Right, at around $50: Hubsan X4 H107C 2.4G 4CH RC Quadcopter With Camera RTF – Black/Red

Hubsan Drone for Sale

Around $50

Why in the world would you want to spend a thousand dollars (or more) on a drone for your Emergency Response Team?

Drone for sale to public

Around $1,000

Answer: If you have money to burn, or if you have a large geographic area to cover or high value properties to document.

Drones are looming big on the horizon. . .

and the Federal Aviation Agency is scrambling to write the rules of use. They are worried (and rightfully so) about the danger drones represent to civilian and commercial aircraft.

But the rules haven’t been written yet and civilian, non-commercial use is growing by leaps and bounds (no pun intended here).

Surveillance of Disaster Areas

One good use for First Responders is to survey the area following a major disaster. Drones can be directed over specific targets and provide excellent photographic records sent in real time to a laptop computer.

This use could shortcut the first responsibility of the Fire Department after a major event, which is to  do a “windshield check” before responding to any individual fires or disaster scenes. The check establishes the passability of roadways and sets priorities for their next steps.

Using drones according to a pre-established grid matrix can accelerate the First Responders’ task, gather more specific and accurate data and allow them to more quickly respond to individual sites.

Delivery of Emergency Equipment

The Neighborhood CERT can use a drone in a similar way, albeit for a specific neighborhood. It could be especially helpful in covering a rural area or a widespread neighborhood geography.

Drones can also be used to deliver emergency supplies, such as a defibrillator, two-way radios, etc. They can also be used in a security setting for surveillance or serve as a deterrent to incursion by strangers.

Weapons of Mini-Mass Destruction?

So much for positive benefits. There is a negative side to drones as well.

While retailers are experimenting with package delivery by drones, it’s probably just a matter of time before some deranged person (or actual terrorist, for that matter) decides to try delivering harmful chemicals or explosives by way of a drone. (Ballistic Drones?)

While it’s doubtful that drones readily available for public purchase can carry large payloads, they do lend themselves to use by individual actors on local targets. And if this seems unlikely – or even a remote likelihood – consider how much fear and potential public hysteria the even more remote threat the Ebola virus created.

If nothing else, it’s something that should give the survivalists something to think about.


Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team




Testing Your Emergency Equipment


Practice ahead of time!

Virginia asked me to write this Advisory. It was prompted because of a blog post she read recently. Seems someone was trapped on his way home during Superstorm Sandy. By phone his wife reported the power was out and temperatures were dropping rapidly. He was proud and relieved to remind his wife that they had a back-up generator. The problem? His wife didn’t know how to turn it on!

Figure it out ahead of time.

Uhhh – confused?

This led us to take a look around our place at some of the emergency equipment we have to see what we really haven’t tested. Here’s my report.

Generator – Yes, we have a generator, a compact one, highly rated. It is still in the box and Virginia has never really seen it! (Two months ago our CERT organization set out to test its large new generator, and the starter did not function. So back it went to the store where we had bought it.)

Camp stove – Virginia and I have camped for years, both in tents (a LONG time ago) and in our RV, so we are familiar with propane stoves. The glitch – where are the gas canisters? And is there any trick to attaching them? If there is, we could waste a valuable resource trying to figure it out.

Water barrel – Last year we purchased a 55 gallon water barrel. (We wrote about our water barrel earlier.) It came with a pump to be inserted when the water is needed. OK, we haven’t needed the water yet. So, where is the pump, and how difficult is it to attach to the barrel? We haven’t tested it yet.

Solar panel back-ups for computers and phones – This one we’re good with. But if you have purchased panels yourself, be sure you have the right connectors that go between the panels and your device. Surely you have noticed that every mobile phone has a different plug on the end. Test NOW to be sure you have what it takes to take advantage of your solar back-ups.

Emergency radios – When we wrote the review of the best emergency radios, we tested all of our radios, so we know how to crank them, where the batteries go (if there are batteries), what connectors they require, etc. I recommend that you use your emergency radio daily. (It gets music or news, not just emergency alerts!) That way you’ll know it it’s ready to go.

How to Send a Text –– You may need grandchildren to help you out, here. But learn!

Turn on the Power — Again, something as simple as knowing where the fuse box is, and how to reset the switches, could make a difference. Everyone in your family needs to know this.

I think this list could go on. But the message is, “Test and practice.” Our plan is to set up a schedule to test one thing every week. You could set up the same action item — and include your children in the exercise. You won’t all be home when the emergency hits!

The more trained family members, the safer you’ll all be.


Joe Krueger
Emergency Response Team