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Sonoma County Gazette
Making a connection with neighbors makes a huge impact in an emergency.

Know your Neighborhood BEFORE an Emergency

Aug 2, 2019


Making a connection with neighbors makes a huge impact in an emergency.

Record neighborhood information on an Excel spreasheet or Google Sheets to share and make sure all neighbors have access, copies, or a hard copy.

9 Steps to Safety

Step 1: Take care of your loved ones before helping neighbors. (As an example, volunteer firefighters are instructed to take care of their loved ones before coming to Fire Station.)

Step 2: Dress for Safety: Bicycle helmet/hard hats to protect from falling debris; have it in bedroom with Go Bag; sturdy shoes; leather gloves that are pliable; head lamp so hands-free and probably won’t have power in time of emergency.

Gas and water valve shut-offsStep 3: Check natural gas and/or propane at your home. Note there is a difference in valves with gas compared to propane. Have tool/device to turn off gas. Encourage neighbor to have one, by meter, not in utensil drawer in kitchen. Consider buying for neighborhood and split cost to decrease price. Get to know your daily meter readings so that you have better idea when you have a gas leak. Be sure valve can turn off and is not “frozen.”

Step 4: Shut off water at the house main to contain the water available in the house. If contaminated water at neighbor’s, turn off water main at your home, so no contaminated water enters your home. If water leak at neighbor’s downhill, turn off water at main to preserve water and not add to neighbor’s plight. Know neighbors’ location of gas/propane and water mains using this application. Do neighbors have automatic shut-off valves?

Step 5: OK and HELP posters. Use these only during case of emergency. Don’t keep in window indefinitely. Decide as neighborhood where this notice goes (window, door, etc.). In case of neighborhood emergency, this will help note those who need help.

Step 6: Put fire extinguisher in a central location so it is accessible to neighbors during an emergency. Make sure fire extinguisher is still current. Flip extinguisher over if powder fire retardant as powder can settle and be ineffective.

Step 7: After steps 1-6 are completed, go toNeighborhood Gathering Place. This helps to ID those who aren’t OK, get 2-3 people to walk around neighborhood to look for missing people. Don’t just send 1 person! Two brains are better than one. Look for signs in the window; If OK sign in the window, assume ok.

Rural Neighborhood Communication site for messages

If neighbor(s) still hasn’t come to the neighborhood gathering place, then 2-3 people go back out and verify people ok. 2-3 people go and make neighborhood assessment once all accounted for to determine which houses damaged.

ID each neighbor’s gas, electrical, water hubs BEFORE emergencies! Our response to chaos = prepare beforehand

Step 8: Form Teams at the Neighborhood Gathering Place:
• Team 1: Listens to Emergency Alert System (AM/FM radio), NOAA, KZST
• Team 2: Check on elderly
• Team 3: Check on all gas, propane meters, turn off, if not already off

Step 9: Set up Care Center - Who knows CPR, MD/DO. List this person(s) in your Neighborhood Packet Neighborhood Skills and Inventory:
• Skills and Knowledge
• Equipment/Supplies
• Who wants to participate in neighborhood group? Not everyone will want to do this. This is OK. Ask if you can keep them informed; they don’t have to attend meetings. Don’t leave anyone out, keep them in the loop, even if they don’t attend meetings.
• Subdivide neighborhoods into small groups to better handle emergencies.
• Hand out brochures by inviting them to your house, because if you hand out brochure without having an informational meeting, they may feel prepared even if they are not
• Pets in an emergency situation: Choose someone who is comfortable working with animals. Be sure to put animals on neighborhood inventory. There is a brochure available called the Halter Project. Note who has pet carrier and where it is located. Large pets need large equipment. Halter Project has excellent materials for how to handle large animals. Cats are more skittish than dogs, so keep that in mind. More cats get lost in emergencies than dogs who stay with their owners. Make sure your pet is micro-chipped!

We’ll keep educating people until we all feel we know what we’re doing!


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