I want to talk about community preparedness and how neighbors, block by block, are taking responsibility to save themselves and each other. Here’s how I’m learning about it…
My better half David and I paid attention to an email from our State Assemblymember, Adrin Nazarian, inviting us to a meeting of folks at the Sherman Oaks East Valley Adult Center (a location that is a story unto itself!). The subject was how to be ready and survive a severe earthquake.
Kristin Sales, a lovely young woman from Sherman Oaks, who is very passionate about taking care of her neighborhood, was the speaker/instructor/advocate.
Kristin’s American Red Cross card identifies her as Community Ambassador-Sherman Oaks. She is much more than that. Her communication of the facts and the needs, and the vitality and enthusiasm of her purpose, convinced those attending that it’s our job save each other and gave us the tools to proceed.
In a nutshell: In a disaster, your neighbors are your closest source of help. It’s hard to think clearly following a disaster, knowing which neighbors have supplies and skills to aid in response. A neighborhood map can show the location of each natural gas meter, water meter and propane tank. Knowing how to turn them off helps prevent fires. The map will show who is elderly, disabled or homes where children may be alone at certain hours. Teams need to be formed, block by block, to listen to emergency alerts on radio, to check on neighbors house by house, to turn off meters as necessary and be prepared to give First Aid. There will be an established protected area, a “gathering site” to share data and reduce confusion.
A very concise pamphlet is available from the Red Cross PrepareSoCal project, along with signs to put in windows saying “OK” or “HELP” (along with a tip to use band aids to stick them up).
These are things we’d rather not deal with. That’s why we dial 911 and wait for emergency vehicles and personnel if we have a crisis. But in a really serious earthquake, communications may be down and streets may not be negotiable. We will be on our own with our prepared little boxes of necessities.
Under our beds, we’ll have our sturdy shoes, hard hat, tough gloves, flashlights and basic clothing. And our fire extinguishers will be in proper accessible places. And if we don’t need them, place fire extinguishers on the sidewalk so neighbors can use them. So many basic things can make a difference in survival.
This is not meant to be a downer of a column, just a heads up. Take the time to learn how to save lives – yours and your neighbors.
To contact Kristin Sales and the Red Cross email Kristin.Sales@RedCross.org, also visit RedCross.org/ LA-Request and PrepareSoCal.org.
And we’ll talk…
Jackie Joseph is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.”