Planning for an emergency…week 14

Thankfully, we have had a little break in the summer heat. Working on the emergency containers with our great volunteers yesterday afternoon was a pleasure and wasn't too hot. It is interesting working with our CERT trained volunteers. They don't just 'show up' empty handed. They brought water, paper and pencils, and even had hand sanitizer with them. They have 'CERT-ainly' embraced the concept of being prepared!We had some interesting conversations about the emergency preparedness of our community yesterday. As we were working on the inventories of our emergency containers and improving the supplies stored in the containers, we kept coming back to two main concepts of emergency preparedness. First, we are all responsible for being prepared for an emergency. The four emergency preparedness containers in our city will not satisfy the needs of the community after a major earthquake. But the inventories of the containers and the volunteers who help to staff them WILL be helpful for some of our community members. The containers will serve as communication points, places where items can be distributed and the limited number of tools and supplies will be helpful for those who may need it most. The second important concept is that of neighbors helping neighbors. The volunteers working yesterday are all members of the Downey community. Who knows, maybe you live next door to one of them. One important point here is that these volunteers are doing their best to be fully prepared to take care of themselves after a disaster AND then transition to being a useful community volunteer as soon as their family and home situations are stabilized. Our community will be more prepared for an emergency and in a better position to prosper when more of us embrace the spirit of volunteering to assist our neighbors after we have ensured our own families and homes are secured. Please consider getting involved in your neighborhood watch group or at least start talking to your neighbors about what can be done on your block to be more prepared for an emergency. I just finished reading a book by football coach Tony Dungy. In the book he stressed the importance of sticking to our game plans and 'doing what we do'. This week let's follow the good coach's advice. Let's keep talking to our neighbors about what we can help them with and what help we could really use from them. For this weeks supply work, let's obtain the following: •at least one box of dry crackers (great for a snack, long shelf life) •at least one box of dry cereal (great for snacking, long shelf life) •energy food bars (can be protein bars, granola bars, etc. - good shelf life, no cooking/ clean-up required) •health supplies (rubbing alcohol, antiseptic, anti-diarrheal medication, ipecac syrup) •cash…small denominations like 1's and 5's may be very helpful after an emergency •extra batteries….be sure they work in your flashlights and radios (consider the option of a hand-crank radio/flashlight) •aluminum foil and plastic wrap (multiple uses for both of these, long shelf life) Most of the items on this week's shopping list are things we can add to our shopping carts when we shop for groceries. The small bills can be obtained if we ask for our change in 1's and 5's. The current economy has been very tough on our community. However, setting aside a few bills a couple of times a month will really be useful the next time we need cash and we can't find our bank card or when the local ready-teller machine is in-operable. Just imagine how tough it will be to get cash immediately after an earthquake. We all get used to getting our supplies of things (food, fuel, cash, etc) 'just in time'. Problems come when the systems we rely on let us down. Finally, consider 'opting-in' to the new City emergency notification system. You can access the information you need to consider on the City website ( by clicking on the city government tab and then clicking on 'emergency preparedness', look for the citizen alert button. The same button is offered from the 'quick links' tab on the home page. Why sign-up? Primarily because the City only has access to traditional house (also known as 'landline') numbers. Cell numbers and e-mail addresses are not available for emergency notification systems. If there was an emergency notification of a specific neighborhood in Downey and your lived there, many people would want to get a call on their cell phone (or a text message) first and their landline(if they have one) second. Stay safe and prepare yourself and your family for an emergency. Questions or comments about emergency preparedness should be directed to Mark Sauter is a deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: July 29, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 15