Who is there immediately after a natural disaster? Is it the Fire Department, the Police Department, Public Works or perhaps the Construction Trades? I suspect not. In reality, it may take considerable time for the professionals to arrive and in lieu of a professional first responder, your first responder will likely be someone you know or see regularly.
When we experience a regional interruption, our responders will be overwhelmed and gravely impacted by said interruption. The excellent response times we have become accustomed to in the Seattle Metropolitan area will be put on hold. Instead the first responders will switch from individual needs to the greater good of the community and strategically prioritize their response plans to help the most urgent matters.
So, who will help you in the event that you are in need?
Think about the different places you spend your time and who would stop to help you or make sure to check on you? If you are at work, then your first responder will likely be a co-worker, your boss or perhaps another tenant in the building, What if you were at at the grocery store or the library? Then it could be a complete stranger. How about if you were at your home? Likely it will be a family member or a neighbor. But how would your neighbor know to check on you?
Prepare with Your Neighbors!
We would encourage you to prepare with your neighbors. The State of Washington developed a neighborhood preparedness program that is available at: http://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/preparedness/map-your-neighborhood. In addition, there are great city level plans, as well, however for ease of distribution we only share the State's plan in this weekly tip. Please download this plan or that of your choosing. In either case, the plans will give you guidance on how to take steps to collaborate with your neighbors on preparedness efforts.
We also suggest incorporating your neighbors into your crisis communications plan, particularly if you work away from home and have neighbors who remain in the neighborhood during the hours you are away. Share your "out of area" contact information and ask them to check in on neighborhood updates post interruption. Think of the panic you can mitigate by knowing your home is standing strong.
A trusted neighbor can also be an invaluable asset if you are a pet owner. If you have pets, share a key to your home and directions for caring for your pets. Where is the food, how much do they need, do they need to go outside, etc. We get so much love from our pets, it is the least we can do to ensure they are cared for until we can return.
These are just a couple of benefits that could come from enlisting your neighbors into your preparedness plans. Download the plan now, don't delay, prepare today!