Disaster preparedness –Map Your Neighborhood
A neighborhood map
If there is a disaster – especially a major disaster – the usual emergency services provided by police, firefighters, and ambulance/medical personnel will not be available for help in a timely manner. Immediately following a disastrous event, these forces will be busy surveying the area, or helping the areas with the most concentrated or serious damage, or may not even be able to physically reach certain districts. Community help will have a crucial role in saving lives until further help can be summoned.
The Functions of MYN
The MYN organization starts in neighborhoods with bringing neighborhood families together in a 1 or 2 hour meeting
--To set up a list of households
--To identify the skills and equipment that may be helpful in a disaster
--To identify vulnerable neighbors (elderly, those with disabilities, small children etc)
--To create a neighborhood map showing gas meter and propane tank locations, which are fire hazards
--To set up a neighborhood gathering site and a neighborhood care center. The gathering site should be outside somebody’s home to be well visible. The care center – for elderly, children, injured etc – is inside somebody’s home.
--To present and discuss the 9 steps to be taken right after a disastrous event.
A hard hat is an item among the necessities for an emergency
The 9 Steps to Complete Immediately Following a Disaster
FIRST take care of yourself and your family: Steps 1-6
1. Take care of your own family.
2. Wear protective gear: helmet, sturdy shoes, leather gloves.
3. Check the natural gas or propane tanks – shut off if necessary.
4. Shut off water at the main – this will protect any water already inside your house, for example the water in your hot water tank, from becoming contaminated with possible pollutants from broken mains, etc.
5. Place either a ‘HELP’ or an ‘OK’ sign on your front door depending on whether or not you need help, to orient people surveying the area.
6. Place a fire extinguisher on the sidewalk where it is well visible for neighbors to use.
THEN connect with neighbors: Step 7-9.
7. Go to the gathering site.
8. Form teams to listen to the Emergency Alert System, to check on neighbors, to check natural gas meters and propane tanks.
9. Go back to the gathering place for further discussions about what to do.
People will likely be shocked and stunned by the sudden events of a disaster. A well-designed action plan is crucial for dealing with the situation. The 9 step plan is supposed to be executed during the first hour following the event, which is called the ‘golden hour’, as early evaluation of the situation and help can save lives.
The place of MAP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD in the general framework of disaster readiness
Clearly, the Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) program is not in place of, but in addition to, individual preparedness. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross have several handouts containing instructions and useful hints on how to set plans up in each individual family for contacting and helping each other, identifying escape routes in the house, stockpiling necessities for an emergency etc.
MYN is not the only disaster readiness program; CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) is another plan. This program is organized under the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS), and is maintained by government agencies to act until professional first responders are available and to help them. CERT also has other functions. As the MYN Overview Document states, according to the FEMA Director, MYN fills the gap between CERT and individual preparedness.
Two types of neighborhood
Of course the action plan may be somewhat different in different types of emergency. Details of the program will probably also depend on the makeup of the neighborhood. For example, some areas may have many families with small children and live in individual houses, others may be mainly seniors living in apartment complexes etc. These can be further explored in consecutive meetings, usually held annually.
GET INVOLVED! GET SOME TRAINING SO YOU CAN INITIATE A MYN GROUP! YOU MAY BE ABLE HELP PEOPLE AND POSSIBLY SAVE LIVES OR RECEIVE HELP FOR YOURSELF OR LOVED ONES IN AN EMERGENCY!