Planning for an emergency - week 18

We hosted some Neighborhood Watch Block Captain training the last two weeks at Fire Station No. 1. 'We' are members of the Emergency Preparedness Committee and Community Emergency Response Team. The objective of the training was to encourage the Block Captains to expand their emergency preparedness efforts beyond their own property lines. It was the first time we have hosted events like this. We had a small turnout the first evening but last night we had a very nice size group.The training included a Power Point presentation. Specific neighborhood maps were distributed to the Captains for their emergency preparedness use. We also included other emergency preparedness information. The captains were encouraged to be pro-active and to go into their neighborhoods and visit with their neighbors. They were advised they should be looking for people who can help with a neighborhood problem and to know more about those who could use some assistance if some type of disaster were to occur. They were also encouraged to consider what the problems of their neighborhoods could be if an emergency occurred and to take some action to prepare for those problems. For example, with a little bit of work, neighbors could easily locate the utility shut-offs for each house on their block. It's true, shutting down the utilities isn't always necessary after an emergency. However, when they do need to be shut down it seems like the valves and switches are always a little harder to locate! One of the captains shared a heart-warming story about her experience on September 27. It seems like a long time ago now, especially with the rain we have had earlier this week. But that Monday was one of the hottest days on record. The good block Captain decided to check-in with several of the seniors living on her block. Thankfully, they were all fine. We gave the Captain a round of applause. She had been a great example of a concerned Block Captain. She went on to say the seniors on her street were 'so happy' to see her and know that she was looking out for them. The Block Captain story, and the training we provided, started me thinking. What if we all did a little volunteer work for emergency preparedness? We can all have a role in it. Whether we are Block Captains or not doesn't matter. We can help support the neighborhood organizational work by working with our Block Captain as a list of potential team members, supplies and communication lists are developed. We can learn CPR and attend a first-aid training session. We can attend a CERT training course presented by the Downey Fire Department. We could even help some of our seniors or others who could use a hand in preparing their home for an earthquake. It doesn't take much effort but it sure improves the confidence and readiness of a neighborhood. It could be that our property and supplies are of great value to the neighborhood. Do we have a big front lawn where our neighbors could meet? Maybe we have a pool that could be used as an emergency source of water for sanitation purposes or even fire fighting. One of the Block Captain training attendees wasn't a Block Captain. In fact, she wasn't even involved with a neighborhood watch group. She said she had read the training article in the Patriot and decided to get involved. Before she left, she had the number for Juddy Ceniceros at City Hall (904-1895) and vowed to ask Juddy for assistance in setting up her own neighborhood watch group. I am hoping her new group makes a request for an emergency preparedness presentation! Members of the Emergency Preparedness Committee and CERT have been accompanying city staff members to presentations like these. It's a great example of volunteering and neighbors helping neighbors. So this weekend let's consider how we can improve the emergency preparedness for our neighborhood. Be a volunteer, talk to your neighbors, follow-up on the previous emergency preparedness lists from this series of articles, and seek out some training for yourself and/or your family. You may find your efforts to be very rewarding. Your families and neighborhood will benefit as well. If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to

********** Published: October 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 25