We’re three-fourths of the way through our series on preparing to execute an emergency preparedness drill in your neighborhood. We hope you are taking this information to your neighbors and encouraging them to be prepared, too.
The adjacent article talks about using radios in an emergency, but the best way to know how to use your radios is to do just that – Use it.
My neighborhood conducts a weekly radio check, which lasts only a couple of minutes, but serves as an opportunity for neighbors to practice using their radios, so in a disaster, they don’t have to try and learn.
Every Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on channel 8, subchannel 1, our communication specialists welcomes everyone to the call and invites them to check in by stating their name.
Once everyone has checked in (which is usually 3-7 people), we open it up for conversation about any topic on preparedness.
These scheduled radio checks keep radios charged and used, so in an emergency, my neighborhood understands how to use them, which gives me a lot of peace of mind. Jason M. Carlton
Did you play with walkie-talkies as a child? Did you ever think that one day you would be using them as a means of communicating in a disaster? Well, if phone lines and cell towers are damaged in an emergency, a set of Family Radio Service (FRS) devices can help your neighborhood mobilize and communicate faster than boys on bikes.
In order for this tool to work most effectively, members of your neighborhood would need to have, and know how to use, FRS radios. Here are two things to consider when selecting the one that’s right for you:
1. The longer the range on your radio, the better you will be able to communicate throughout your neighborhood. FRS radios are line-of-sight transmissions. So if you have a lot of houses and trees between you and the person on the other end, communication may be difficult. For example, a radio that boasts 32 miles, may only provide two-miles in a populated neighborhood.
2. Many radios come with non-removable, rechargeable packs. These can wear out over time. The recommendation is to go with a radio that can also have this rechargeable pack replaced with AA batteries, which may help strengthen the signal when needed.
3. FRS radios contain channels, as well as subchannels. Make sure your radio has subchannel capabilities; otherwise you may be able to hear your neighbors, but not have the ability to communicate back to them.
These radios offer multiple channels that can be used in an emergency, so if your neighborhood needs to communicate, you must coordinate a channel on which all communication will take place. For example, your neighborhood can plan to communicate on channel 8, subchannel 1, while the neighborhood adjacent to yours can take channel 9, subchannel 1.
Another best practice is to designate a communications specialist for your neighborhood who can direct all radio traffic. This person will keep things orderly when crisis strikes and help those seeking to identify families’ needs obtain the information vital to responding.
October, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton
The actual execution of the drill is a powerful way to identify just how ready you and your neighbors are. Taking into account the previous three items discussed in this newsletter (organizing block captains, color codes of emergencies, and radio communication), here are the final elements to carrying out a successful drill.
PICK A DATE & TIME
The drill works best on a Saturday morning, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Select a Saturday that will work best for your neighbors by taking into account school events, or sports games. Plan for the event four weeks in advance, so you have time to coordinate with block captains and other participants.
DESIGNATE DAMAGED HOUSES & INJURIES
Using the color codes, assign 15-20 yellow and red cards to random houses throughout your designated area. Write something on the card explaining the situation.
If you have difficulties identifying homeowners to participate, ask them if you can simply attach the card to an exterior portion of the house, and the participating block captain can simply read the card, rather than knocking and interrupting the homeowner.
SELECT THE RADIO CHANNEL
If you haven’t already designated a FRS channel for your radio, pick the one you plan to use for the drill, and communicate that to participating block captains.
At the designated start time, announce over the radio that the drill has begun. Block captains will proceed to check their designated homes and report back to the Coordination Center.
The coordinator will keep a list of the damage and injuries reported by the block captains.
If you have CERT teams in your neighborhood, they can discuss how they would address each of the injuries. If some areas are missing block captains, the coordinator will need to direct block captains who have completed their own sweep to survey other blocks, too.
Once everything has been reported, get everyone together and debrief the event. This is where you will learn the most, and can implement any best practices into your next drill.
November, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M.Carlton
In my role as an emergency preparedness coordinator for my neighborhood, I have had the opportunity to plan and execute a few neighborhood communication drills. The lead article is the first in a series of articles related to organizing a neighborhood in such a way that a full-scale emergency drill can be executed.
In each of the neighborhood exercises I have been a part of, I have learned something that helps me to refine my own neighborhood’s communication plan.
Here is a list of the articles that you will read in upcoming issues:
1. Organizing blocks & captains
2. Color-codes of emergencies
3. FRS radio protocol
4. Executing the drill
By the end of 2011, we hope to provide you with the information necessary to better organize your neighborhoods so you can test this organization through a communication drill and customize it to better prepare your neighbors and friends for anything that may come your way.
Jason M. Carlton
How often do you see a news story about a disaster that occurred and sent the city into panic and disorganization? Having a practiced and refined emergency preparedness plan in place can help reduce the panic in your own neighborhood.
It would be naive to say that in an actual emergency, your plan will go exactly as planned and practiced – every disaster may warrant different circumstances. But if the residents feel confident that a plan is in place, and has been practiced before, the level of panic will remain much lower.
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Don’t let this be your neighborhood.
STEP 1: Identify a block captain
Block captains are volunteers assigned to a designated collection of houses and who help gather the information necessary to identify and address the needs of that given neighborhood.
Ideally, the block captain should be able to stand in front of their house and see the houses to which they have been assigned. In the corresponding graphic, a few examples of block organizations have been identified, with the block captain’s home identified in white.
STEP 2: Provide basic training
When asking a neighbor to “volunteer” to be a block captain, it is important to be able to provide them with an understanding of what their role is in an emergency.
Layton City (Utah) prepared a PowerPoint presentation for block captain training and has made it available on their Website. You can access the PDF file with this link:
Organization will be key. It may take some time to organize the block captains, and they may change as time goes by, but this is the first step in preparing your neighborhood for an emergency.
Report from Haiti
Haiti is one of the world’s most deforested countries. In some parts of Haiti, families spend up to half of their household income to buy charcoal. It is not uncommon for women to face the dilemma of choosing between buying enough food to feed their family or the charcoal to cook it. To maximize the charcoal’s value, much of the cooking is done in enclosed kitchens, exposing women and children to the harmful effects of smoke.
Sun Ovens International has been working in Haiti since 1998, and is committed to providing an alternative to cooking with charcoal. Haiti is blessed with an abundance of sunshine; the sun can be harnessed as the fuel source for up to 70% of household cooking.
Help Us Help Haiti
During November and December 2013 donations to the Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) SUN OVEN® project will matched dollar for dollar.
The cost of each SUN OVEN® with two pots and WAPIs is $199. Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated.
Credit card donations can be made through the SUN OVEN® website. Donations will be forwarded to FOHO and FOHO will issue a receipt by mail.
FOHO is a 501C3 nonprofit organization so all donations will be tax deductible. 100% of the donation will go directly to sending SUN OVENS® to Haiti; no administrative expenses will be deducted.
To make a donation on line visit: https://www.sunoven.com/products-page/donation/help-us-help-haiti-donation
To learn more about our work in Haiti visit: https://www.sunoven.com/haiti
November 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson, editor
Watch the news. Pick up a newspaper. Surf the Internet. It always seems like there is one disaster or another impacting some other region of the world. But the question many of us ask is, “When and what will hit my region of the world?”
As an emergency preparedness specialist, there are many challenges you face. But the biggest challenge is motivating your family, friends or neighbors to take action to be ready for the unexpected. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide you with the resources you need as a specialist to address these challenges, and provide helpful information to those you care about.
In this, the first issue of Every Needful Thing, our front page will focus on information specific to emergency preparedness specialists, while the inside pages will provide information applicable to all.
I encourage you apply this information to your role in emergency preparedness, and to provide it to your family, friends and neighbors as a resources for their use in preparing for any type of “emergency.” Jason M. Carlton
Prepare your Community
The more prepared a community is, the better the outcome of a disaster. Organizing an emergency preparedness open house is a great way to bring your neighborhoods together to share information, resources and discussion. Here are four tips to help you organize and execute a successfull open house.
TIP 1: Pick the best date & time
Saturday’s are busy days – soccer games, errands, vacations, etc. But an open house can last for 4 hours, allowing the greatest number of people possible. Think about what works best for your neighborhood, but the recommended time is 8 am to noon.
TIP 2: Bring in experts
As a specialist, you know a lot of things, but that doesn’t make you an expert on everything. Workshops are your opportunity to recruit experts to come present a 30-minute class, sharing their best practices and experiences. Workshop topics can include:
• First aid kits
• Water purification & storage
• Solar cooking
• Food storage
TIP 3: Informational booths
Schedules may not allow people to attend the classes, but they still want information about emergency preparedness. Booths can provide people with those resources from organizations such as:
• Local Red Cross chapter
• City Emergency Preparedness
• State Emergency Preparedness
• Others with info to share
Depending on your organization, for-profit companies may need to be avoided, but that is a case-by-case basis.
TIP 4: Get others involved
You don’t have to plan an open house alone. Find other specialists in your area who will recruit and lead a committee for one aspect of the event. Committees can include: Venue Logistics, Event Promotion, Workshop Organizer, and Booth Organizer. The more people involved in planning, the easier your job will be.
Start planning your event about two or three months in advance, divide up responsibilities, and do the best you can. While it may be stressful, it will be worth it.
Our homes protect us from inclement weather and from the intrusion of other people. We live and store our personal property there. It is the center of our daily activities, and contains a place to prepare food and sanitary facilities. It is our home and we have the right to defend it. It is our obligation to maintain our shelter by paying attention to the need for repairs, whether we do the work or have someone else do it, repairs mean safe shelters. Security also involves habits like locking the door behind you, having screens on windows, and placing dowels in sliding doors.
Add a steel plate over the frame of doors to reinforce the deadbolt area. This will reinforce the door locks. Remove existing door trim, screw in steel strip. Make sure your screws don’t interfere with the bolt positions. Replace the door trim. The door will not give way easily.
During disasters, our first instinct is to shelter in place at home.
If our home is damaged, we may have to leave it and find protection from the elements elsewhere. Depending on the situation, we may be able to find a public shelter in a school or other facility manned by a humanitarian organization. If the disaster is widespread, you may need to make do with items you have in your emergency supplies or apply some wilderness survival techniques to make one. If you find yourself in this situation, preparing a shelter will be a first priority. You will want to get it finished before nightfall.
This will be the time that you are happy to have an emergency kit. Items included in your kit like a flashlight, rain poncho, hand warmers, extra clothing and waterproof matches will be welcome. You may not have an air mattress, but that thermal space blanket and plastic tarp will help avoid hypothermia.
Thanks to Joe Marshall for use of this table from his book, “The-Preppers-Playbook”. Joe is an average guy with a passion for sharing everything he learns. He is managing editor for www.SurvivalLife.com. Joe is graciously making this book available to Every Needful Thing readers at a special price. Click on The-Preppers-Playbook link.
Remember the 4th Survival commandment: “Adapt to the surroundings, wherever they may be.” Gaye Levy
September 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson