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Sustainable in the City: Community Solidarity When the SHTF

Educating the masses on the importance of emergency preparedness, setting up protocols, and cooperating with existing disaster organization’s procedures will help the community as a whole pool resources and sustain themselves in times of long-term recovery.

When I first began learning about the worst case scenarios associated with emergencies and disasters, I have to admit there was a part of me terrified of crime waves or gangs attacking our home and injuring my family. I knew that when the needs of the unprepared are not met, they are more likely to participate in breakdowns of society that eventually lead to them taking matters into their own hands.

Essentially, I believed my future would be a life lived in fear. I had tunnel vision and was not able to see the greater picture before me. This fear is perfectly normal and drives us to better prepare our families. Once I removed the goggles causing that tunnel vision, I realized that I had a great opportunity at my disposal. If I wanted to thrive – my communities needed to thrive, as well.

The resilience of our communities is solely dependent on how prepared each of its members are. A prepared populace can prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and assist in the recovery from threats that pose the greatest risk.

To achieve this, our efforts must lie in readying town members through preparedness-based education and ensuring that each home has emergency supplies to use. Before any of this can happen, you must ensure that your own home is adequately prepared before branching out into preparing an entire community. Each household should look into creating a preparedness plan, securing preparedness measures of their own and also actively creating security layers outside and inside the home to defend against vulnerabilities.

The Advantages of  a Prepared Community

In an extended emergency, a prepared group of town members can bind together to share responsibilities and distribute tasks such as gardening, hunting, cooking, purifying water, gathering essential supplies and protecting the commonwealth. Knowing what your neighbor’s strengths are will help create a more prepared town.

We are all aware of the strength in numbers adage. Explaining this notion can help sell the idea of a community-wide preparedness task. The odds of survival rest partly in those who we can wholeheartedly rely on. Having a large group of prepared individuals will help the general public thrive for longer amounts of time because each home has the supplies and skills it needs to keep going. Moreover, communities should provide skills training to help the general public learn critical survival skills for long term survival. Individuals bringing a variety of skills binds the group further to create a solid, well-functioning team. Along those lines, a large group of preppers can diversify themselves through cross-training in various skills.

Keep in mind that not every member of the community will be on board. All you can do is concentrate your efforts on preparing the ones who are willing and see the bigger picture.

How To Create a Preparedness Plan for Your Community

It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something, than to do something for them. The quote, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” comes to mind when the discussion of community-based preparedness is addressed. We have seen first-hand how inundated police and other emergency personnel become during and after a disaster – we are essentially left on our own until the recovery efforts begin. Similar to a preparedness group, in an extended emergency, a prepared community can bind together to weather the storm more fluidly.

As a whole, members of a town or city should understand the importance of making preparedness a priority. The more prepared each person is, the better the town will get by. Educating the masses on emergency preparedness is the best bet in spreading the word on the importance of a prepared community. If each member is prepared, they will be more level headed, will understand what is to be expected during and after a disaster, what their duties as citizens are and how to better  protect their community. This proactive mindset will trickle down to younger generations thus creating a more preparedness-based mindset for future generations.

1. Make a plan. Similar to creating your own family’s preparedness plan, ask similar questions to begin the task of community-wide education on preparedness. Find out what your town members and neighbors believes its vulnerabilities and concerns are. Many communities are starting homesteading and/or preparedness Facebook Pages. A way to get Facebook readers involved is to ask questions to see how prepared they are. Here are some examples:

  • What do you believe the most likely disasters to prepare for are?
  • What do you believe the biggest concerns are during and after a disaster?
  • Do you believe the community is prepared enough to thrive during a disaster that lasts 2 weeks? A month or longer? If not, what ways can we make it so?
  • What skills do you possess that could benefit the community in a disaster?

From there, once a need is in the community, you can create classes on how to better prepare a community by emphasizing your class lectures on sustainability, prepping, homesteading, etc.

As well, look into what the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center, and other places where your family spends time.

Once you have an understanding of what your community’s concerns and strengths are, make an effort to establish close relationships with local community organizations. Seeing that you are willing to volunteer your time and services to this cause will help them be more willing to make this a priority. Further, getting to know what your local organizations’ protocols are toward emergencies will help your community better understand how to develop action plans, and guidelines for procedures and communication during a crisis. Some questions to ask community leaders and emergency organizations are:

  • Should the public become involved in the response? If so, in what way(s)?
  • What geographical area(s) in  our community has been or may be adversely impacted if a disaster occurs?
  • How many people could be threatened, affected, exposed, injured, or killed?
  • How will the community help elderly or disabled persons, if needed?
  • If critical infrastructures have been affected (e.g., electrical power, water
  • supplies, sanitation, telecommunications, transportation, etc.), in what ways can the community continue to thrive?
  • If the medical and health care facilities have been affected, what protocols can be taken to ensure the general public has medical care?
  • Are escape routes open and accessible during disasters?
  • How can information be communicated to responders and the public to protect itself?
  • What are your community’s warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them?
  • How will animals be cared for after a disaster?

2. Make it public. With the information you have amassed, you can report the findings to your community and begin developing protocols and action plans. At the meetings, have all pertinent information and lists available for the public. I have found that checklists help a lot in organizing information that can easily be read. Meanwhile, keep providing information to local leaders and interested public members. You can do this by:

  • Creating a monthly meeting with free preparedness training provided.
  • A website with a newsletter to get information out to the masses.
  • Participating in public service announcements or putting notices on local cable television are other ways to keep the community informed.
  • Forming a partnership with local media outlets can be invaluable for promoting your program and recognizing contributions from presenters and others.
  • You can also advertise your page in the free classified sections of local newspapers.
  •  Start a Facebook page for local residents to post preparedness and prepper deals.

Further, setting up activities outdoors such as a barbecue or outdoor preparedness fair to meet the community will also assist in getting your message across. To show your passion for this cause, take photographs of preparedness sessions to promote future sessions or add them to your website and social media platforms. Note: Remember to get releases from individuals before publishing the photographs.

3. Educate the masses. Take a lesson from the major emergency organizations out there – educate, train and implement strategies to help the public feel comfortable about the emergency protocols in place. In a disaster situation, when a community understands what is happening and what to expect, they are more responsive to the situation itself and can easily adapt to their environment.

4. Practice makes perfect. Participate in the planning, design, and have routine exercises to evaluate the public’s knowledge on emergency preparedness and response. A critical component to survival is having the right frame of mind to handle the stresses before and after a disaster. Teach a community the importance of mental preparedness and help simulate real disaster scenarios so they are less likely to panic during an actual disaster.

Together We Stand

You have a unique opportunity to share your knowledge and your skills with your community. We want our communities to be safer, stronger, and better equipped to withstand emergencies. Preparedness efforts should start with your household and expand out.

Educating the masses on the importance of emergency preparedness, setting up protocols, and cooperating with existing disaster organization’s procedures will help the greater public pool resources and sustain themselves in times of long-term recovery.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on May 20th, 2013

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