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Disaster preparedness –Map Your Neighborhood

Updated on September 14, 2015

A neighborhood map

An area like this would probably be broken into several smaller units in the MAP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD program to bring people from 15-30 homes together.
An area like this would probably be broken into several smaller units in the MAP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD program to bring people from 15-30 homes together. | Source


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

Houses in a residential neighborhood
Houses in a residential neighborhood | Source
Apartments | Source

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.



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    • Eva Hard profile image

      PE Hardwicke 2 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for your comment Alicia!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The Map Your Neighborhood program sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing the information, Eva. Disaster preparedness is very important for both individuals and communities.

    • Eva Hard profile image

      PE Hardwicke 3 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great! This is something everybody agrees on - yet everybody has something more urgent to do, so it gets postponed and postponed.... I have to admit I myself was recruited by our next door neighbors. You have the right attitude! Thanks for your comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm back...I actually did this and passed out copies to all the neighbors. :)

    • Eva Hard profile image

      PE Hardwicke 3 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for your comment

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions that every citizen should pay attention to.