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Simple Ways to Prepare Your Community for Disasters and Make It Safer

Disaster preparedness is all about building a strong community that can handle any emergency and bounce back from any damage.

Every year, communities are faced with natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods, which usually displace thousands while injuring many.

Aside from this, disasters such as fire, explosions, and accidents are man-made. They typically result from human mistakes and negligence.

For optimal safety, the whole community needs to be ready, and if you do not think your neighborhood is, here are simple ways to make it safer.

Research past and current hazards in your community

Communities are more prone to different disasters than others. First, identify and research the past and current hazards your community is prone to.

For instance, of the ten most hurricane-prone counties, nine are located in Florida, North Carolina, or South Carolina. The remaining one is located in Chatham County, Georgia.

Some natural disasters, such as forest fires, cannot be forecasted. This is why it is vital to research such disasters and follow weather reports closely to prepare your community better.

On the other hand, man-made disasters like terrorism, crime, oil spills, fires, and civil disorder can be prevented with effective community engagement.

Although not the best time anyone wants to experience, people respond better in an emergency if they know possible threats and safety tips before they occur.

Leverage available institutions

Going door-to-door to rally neighbors and other community members can be stressful, and some of them may not be readily accessible.

Leveraging the network and resources of existing institutions in the community will offer more success.

Research has shown that community-based organizations help community members better respond to disaster situations.

For instance, an effective collaboration between firefighters and community members can help curb and prevent fire incidents. Similarly, organizing award

ceremonies for these community heroes and champions, such as the presentation of firefighter trophies, can help motivate them to do more.

Churches, sports teams, book clubs, and neighborhood watch, among others, can also play an important role in making your community safer.

Partner with these organizations and institutions to train your community members in emergency safety routines in case of a disaster.

Organize block meetings

If you have the resources and network, you may organize block meetings where members of the community come together to discuss how to make it safer.

Talk with your neighbors to let them know you are starting a block meeting. Schedule a time that will be convenient for most members; the evening is a good time or the weekends.

Publicize the meeting through flyers and email. Prepare your mind; not everyone will be interested in joining. More people will eventually join when they start seeing the impact of the meeting.

Invite local law enforcement officers and organizations with expertise in the disaster your community might or is currently facing.

One of the safety strategies that can be discussed in such a meeting is the best exit for every household in case of an emergency. Educate members on how to locate their house’s gas meter, water line, and electrical box. They should be able to interact with them and understand what to do in case of an emergency, such as how to turn off the gas meter and cut the electricity supply in the house.

Interact with schools and hospitals on their emergency protocols so you can better plan a safety strategy for everyone in the community without jeopardizing anyone’s safety.

Seek volunteers

See if any residents with medical training or first-aid expertise can be a resource during an emergency.

In case they are not much and might not be enough for an emergency, encourage them to train other volunteers in the community.

If there are none in your community, seek partnerships with non-profit organizations like the Red Cross to train community volunteers on basic first aid principles.

In a community facing security issues, seek volunteers for a neighborhood watch group and collaborate with local law enforcement to reduce crime.

Aside from keeping a close watch to report suspicious activities in the community, these volunteers can also distribute crime prevention information or any other information that could prevent civil disorder.

However, every member of the community needs to be a volunteer for optimal safety. For instance, all households should have basic knowledge of how to prevent fire disasters and always be on the lookout. This may include a thorough check of the electrical and cooking appliances before leaving home.

Establish an emergency network

Communication is important during an emergency. Some disasters may disrupt all available means of communication, such as the Internet and phone calls.

Strategize how to maintain communication despite. Walkie-talkie apps, for example, consume less mobile data and are more likely to work in such a situation.

HAM radios can also come in handy, as they work well even when traditional communications are down.

With them, you will be able to contact your local emergency services for assistance and also check on others in the community.

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