Connect with your community now to prepare for disasters later

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Editor’s note: This article was written by Dean Ross, Michigan State University emergency management and farm safety educator.

Emergency managers and first responders have a saying, “All disasters are local.” Each tornado, flood or other emergency directly impacts only a local area. The recent earthquake/tsunami in Japan has global implications, but the real disaster is centered on each effected community.

Everyone lives, works and plays within a community that may one day be impacted by a disaster. The response to that event will require more than the efforts of local police, fire and emergency medical services to overcome the impact. It will require a network of individuals involved in neighborhood, civic, business and church organizations working together to respond and rebuild the community.

Disasters require resilient communities. Building a resilient community requires involvement. The May 2011 emergency preparedness goal at: www.do1thing.us points to several ways you can engage in building a resilient community.

  • Join a local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or other local emergency response group and receive training that will allow you to help others during a disaster.
  • Attend or organize a Neighborhood Watch or Association meeting.
  • Connect with an isolated individual in your neighborhood
  • Become a volunteer in your neighborhood
  • Host a neighborhood get together.

Each of these activities is intended to increase community preparedness, community cohesiveness and your individual ability to help yourself as well as others in an emergency. By reaching out to others in your local community you become the catalyst for increasing resiliency in your community. Another method to increase community is to become a volunteer.

There are many opportunities to volunteer with community organizations such as fire and police departments. Many communities also have a Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. If you are interested in volunteering during times of disaster, become a Red Cross Volunteer.

Volunteer now, before a disaster hits. Groups like the Red Cross require their volunteers to have some training before they commit them to a response situation. This training needs to take place before you can be called to help.

Finally, if your neighborhood does not have a Neighborhood Watch or neighborhood association, consider starting one. These groups can help you and your neighbors plug into your own communities and become better prepared to work together when the need arises. This can be an especially important asset for farms in areas with a growing suburban population.

www.Do1Thing.us is dedicated to providing a monthly opportunity to look at personal and family preparedness. 

Source: Michigan State University



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