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Are You Prepared?

Neighborhood Preparation

NOW is the time to share this information with every neighbor and form a neighborhood group that can help each other. Anarchy and riots could break out and law enforcement agencies may be operating sporadically if at all as we have witnessed in New Orleans.

Your first question may be: "What if I don't know my neighbors?" Well, this would be an excellent way to get to know them. You can go door-to-door inviting them to your house for a meeting. Or if your neighborhood has a meeting room, then reserve that room. If you live in an apartment complex, then reserve your clubhouse. Also some neighborhood associations and apartment complexes have a newsletter. Prepare a notice about your meeting. You might also consider distributing flyers.

The secret to getting people to attend is the old "What's in it for me?" You need to create something that shows what could happen if the neighborhood is not prepared and how that could have a direct effect on the attendees and their families like they had to learn during Hurricane Katrina.

I don't think that you will have to much trouble convincing them that this could happen to them after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita!

Your second question will probably be: "What do I do at the meeting?" First, I would have nametags and an agenda sheet available for each attendee. Also make sure to have a sign-in sheet that has ENOUGH space for the name, address, phone number, and even e-mail of each attendee. At the same time ask for the following information that will be very important for the directory that is being created:

* Names, addresses/e-mails of EVERY physician, nurse, carpenter, plumber, mechanic, fire fighter, police officer, electrician, builder, physically challenged person, and elderly person in the neighborhood/complex.

* Names and ages of children in each family.

* Locations of each house supplied with gas.

Then I would invite the attendees to serve themselves refreshments and mingle.

After allowing enough time for the attendees to arrive, I would then go around the room asking every attendee to give his/her name and a brief reason that he/she decided to attend the meeting. I would assign someone to keep notes and if feasible I would have a flip chart available. You will want to have someone write out the reasons on the flip chart.

I would then reiterate the reason you have called the meeting especially emphasizing what's in it for the attendees and their families. The first item on the agenda might be how the neighborhood could set up a buying cooperative for the items that could be helpful doing an emergency i.e. the eight plus hour candles, generators, hand-cranked flashlights and short wave radios, FDA-approved water containers, first aid kits, bulk food, non-hybrid seeds, water purifiers, etc. We have found a company that can help you and your neighbors that is mentioned in my new FR** Ebook. You then might discuss the signaling system for neighborhood communications that I discussed in my previous book. It is extremely important to able to communicate with your neighbors especially after a natural disaster. The telephone lines will most likely be down.

You will want to develop a rotating schedule where one person is responsible for touring your neighborhood or apartment complex to check on the signaling system. This system is very simple and requires that a family who has an emergency at their home or apartment prominently display a RED ribbon where the "checker" can see it. The "checker" should immediately go to the door and knock LOUDLY and call out. If there is no response then the "checker" should make the decision to enter the house or apartment. Remember, someone may be unconscious and unable to respond; every minute will count. You might ask if this is legal.

I would discuss the feasibility of getting the attendees to agree to sign an agreement authorizing someone to enter a home or apartment after reasonable attempts to get a response are exhausted. Before creating this agreement it would be good to check with an attorney.

Another very important agenda item should be CPR and first aid. You should determine who has had both CPR and first aid instruction. EVERY attendee should have been certified for CPR. If they are not, then one of the first priorities is getting a certified instructor to attend a meeting to teach CPR. EVERY person in the family should attend that meeting from 10 years old to the grand parents!

Let me share a story. When I lived in Atlanta, I had two old spinsters for neighbors named Vera and Sara. Vera worked at the neighborhood McDonalds and learned CPR. One day Vera and Sara were shopping at the mall when Sara collapsed. Vera knew how to perform CPR and saved Sara's life! What if your child was lying unconscious? Would you know how to administer CPR? Remember, paramedics have to respond to the 911 situation and even with rapid response, the minutes a person is not breathing means more of a chance of permanent brain damage and even death.

There should be at least one person who is also trained in first aid and the neighborhood group should also look into the purchase of a group first like we use.

What follows is VERY important to share with your neighbors. During any emergency situation, valuable personal information could be inaccessible or even destroyed. I shared this "buddy system" in my previous book and I want to make sure you prepare your information program before you have your first meeting.

You will want to choose a TRUSTED out-of-area contact or close relative to create the "buddy system." You are going to exchange the following very valuable information with them.

* Your name and address * Your children's full names and birthdays * Color of your children's eyes and hair * Children's mother's and father's names * Children's sex and race * Children's heights and weights (make sure and keep this current) * Children's scars and birthmarks * Name, address, phone number/e-mail of your children's daycare/school and person in charge * Children's pediatrician/physician names and phone numbers/e-mail * Children's other identifiers (glasses, braces, etc.) * Children's fingerprints and current photos * Name, phone number/e-mail of children's sitter (keep this current) * Family physician's phone number/e-mail * Blood types of all members * Social security numbers of all members * Birth dates of all members * Home/work phone numbers/e-mail * List of all special health problems, allergies to medications, and prescriptions of all members * Attorney's name and phone number/e-mail * Your bank, branch, contact person, phone number/e-mail, and checking account numbers * Your savings account, or Certificate of Deposit number, branch location, and phone number/e-mail * Your safety deposit box number and location * Your homeowner's insurance company, policy number, agent's phone number/e-mail * Your life insurance carrier, policy number, agent's phone number/e-mail

Now you can see why I emphasized a TRUSTED friend or relative. You are going to be sharing a great deal of confidential and important information with this person. Of course, he/she is going to be doing the same.

Also it would be wise to have some of the real vital information in a special emergency packet that is going to be kept by EVERY person in the household. The absolute required information would include the person's name, address and phone number; the parent's names, address, phone number(s)/e-mail(s); the person's birth date; the person's finger prints and current photo; the person's blood type and any special medical problems, allergies to medications, and current prescriptions; and most importantly the name, address, phone number(s)/e-mail of the out-of-area contact person or relative. If one of your children should get separated from you this information should be very valuable to law enforcement agencies.

We KNOW how difficult it can be to prepare so I have updated my previous printed book featured on CNN, Fox News and Art Bell Coast to Coast as an Ebook that will be coming out soon.

About the Author
I'm a TV producer and former investigative reporter for Post Newsweek TV. I wrote and published A Family Survival Manual for Y2K & Beyond in 1999 that was featured on CNN, Fox News and Art Bell Coast to Coast. I also have been a public relations consultant for over 30 years.

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