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Are You Prepared?
 by: Hugh Simpson

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.

This would be an excellent time to form a food cooperative/buying program. Also suggest to the attendees that when they go to the grocery store, buy DOUBLE the amount of canned goods each week until they have at least a six month supply on hand...preferably one year supply. They might consider buying dehydrated/freeze-dried food.

You might check with your local grocery store and see if they will allow you to buy canned goods in cases for your group. We found a local IGA store in Atlanta that was willing to work with us for Y2K preparation. How long will these cans lasts?

In my research for my previous book, I learned that your canned goods have a shelf life of 2-5 years! If you are not sure and would like to be safe, then look on the label and call the 800 number. The person will ask for the code on the can. With this information he/she will be able to tell you when this can was sealed and the average shelf life of the can.

You will also want to consider plans to develop community garden when spring returns. Even if there is food available it could be more expensive than a highflying dotcom stock! Even if nothing happens, a community garden can be a wonderful project for the neighborhood.

Your group should purchase an assortment of Non-Hybrid seeds that can be used for growing food. It is very important they be Non-Hybrid since these are the only seeds you can use from the full-grown plants. The majority of the seeds available today will not grow another crop forcing you to buy more seeds.

The following are some points that gardening expert Bev Kates shared for my first book:

  • Research the relative nutritional merits of fruits, vegetables, and grains, which you would like to include in your diet.
  • Emphasize those rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and starches for sustenance.
  • Make sure and have a variety of colors, textures, and tastes.
  • Include a wide variety of both summer and winter crops.
  • Make sure your seeds are disease-resistant, productive strains (also non-hybrid).
  • Pack your seeds and spores (mushrooms) in generous quantity in an airtight container.
  • Investigate companion planting (which varieties to plant next to each other for maximum productivity and insect and disease resistance).

Now Bev is going to share 2 gardening technique for even the smallest apartment...

  • Consider square foot gardening techniques to maximize production in a minimum amount of space.
  • Get in the habit of recycling plant waste matter (discarded leaves and stems, vegetable peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc.) in a mulch pile.

You might also consider hydroponics.

Next on the agenda should be water sources. It is very possible that the water source may be contaminated and potentially dangerous water could be flowing in your pipes. Do not under any circumstances drink from the tap during an emergency (it is advisable to even avoid washing with this water).

You are going to need a minimum of one gallon of water for each member of the household per day. This will be used for drinking, cooking, washing your hands, and brushing your teeth. The Red Cross says that you should have at least a three-day supply but I believe very strongly that you should have a 6-month to one-year supply. Witness in New Orleans that they were still finding people in their attics 14 DAYS after Hurricane Katrina!

Your first choice should be a non-electric water purifier. The military and missionaries have used these water purifiers for years. The majority of the water sources these agencies have available are as contaminated as your local cesspool! By using these water purifiers it is possible to remove over 99% of the impurities from the dirtiest water on the Planet. You can create a system where the water collects in plastic garbage bag covered garbage cans. Then you can take that water and run it through the purifier. Most of these purifiers will clean at least 10,000 gallons of water before the filters have to be replaced.

Now, if you do not want to invest in a water purifier, you can check and see if your local grocery has a water vending machine. This will be usually water that has been processed using reverse osmosis, which is the purest water you can get. You will want to start collecting those gallon containers that distilled water comes in or plastic drink bottles. NEVER use the plastic MILK containers as they have the potential of leaving deadly bacteria even after washing in the hottest water. Usually you can get a gallon out of the machine for 25 cents.

I am sure that some of you reading this article may not be able to afford the expense of a water purifier or even the water machine. There is another alternative that will work...

You can also fall back on the old standby of chlorine bleach or iodine for decontaminating your water. The bleach you buy should state on the label that it contains 5.5% sodium chloride. Most times you will use 8 drops of the bleach per gallon. You will want to make sure that you can both TASTE and SMELL the bleach before drinking it. If you are not sure then add another 8 drops. If the water appears to be cloudy then add 16 drops in the beginning. Mix the water thoroughly and let it stand for at least 30 minutes.

In regards to iodine, there are new tablets available that purify the water and also remove the taste of the iodine.

So where are you going to store this water? Your first choice should be the FDA-approved containers that can store from 5 gallons to 55 gallons. You would only want to consider the 55 gallon containers if you plan not to move them.

Your best bet is the five gallon ones. Remember the five-gallon container will last one member of your family five days. You should place the containers on their sides and stack them. You also want to make sure and keep these containers off the floor and away from strong odors i.e. gasoline. The water supply should last from 2-3 years; however, it is a good idea to rotate the containers as you purify using the older water first.

You can use the plastic jugs...NOT MILK JUGS...but they will not last as long as the FDA-approved containers.

There will be emergencies when you will have to take drastic measures. You can usually drink the water from the toilet TANK not the bowl. Or you can drink the water from the hot water heater. You attach a garden hose at the bottom of the hot water heater. Make sure you have turned off the heat first and also drained out the sediment that collects at the bottom of the hot water heater.

You should pass out information that explains what to do as soon as the disaster occurs. Most likely the electricity is going to shut down as predicted in the report. You begin to pull out that supply of candles you bought especially those 8-hour plus ones. Also you have an assortment of flashlights with fresh batteries and even a couple of those flashlights you can hand crank or shake.

Speaking of hand-cranked devices, you also locate your short wave radio that also offers a solar powered backup source. Why short wave? Because these radios offer extra emergency bands that might come in handy at this time. Also if the time of power outage is very long then the news and entertainment on the short wave can take the place of television (unless you have a battery powered one). You might also keep fresh batteries in the kids’ toys and video game units to keep them entertained. Ditto for your laptop or PDA.

If you have gas ranges, dryers, or other appliances IMMEDIATELY go to the source and TURN IT OFF! Every member of the family over twelve years old should know how to turn off the gas at the source which is usually by the street. Why do this? Because there could be a gas break from the disaster and the last thing you want to deal with at this time is a deadly explosion. I would also recommend assigning people at your meeting to act as “back-up” checkers for the entire community in regards to shutting off the gas. This will also immediately get them involved in the project.

Now you should cover the importance of obtaining alternate sources of power. Remind them to purchase a 3-6 month supply of firewood. Keep on hand the store bought starter logs so that you can get the fire going quickly. If you run out of these logs then you can take old newspaper (preferably without color since this can out gas potentially dangerous fumes) and roll them up tightly to create your own logs. Remember to keep on hand both fireproof matches and the disposable lighters.

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 a FR** Ebook that will be coming out soon. Go to and scroll to the bottom of the page to reserve your FR** copy!

About The Author

Hugh Simpson is a TV producer and former investigative reporter for Post Newsweek TV. He also has owned a public relations consulting firm for over 30 years.

This article was posted on September 24, 2005


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