Step 5 - Plan Your Approach

What Do You Do First?

In the last of the 5 Steps to Neighborhood Preparedness we are going to look at first actions and procedures in the event of a disaster.

Whenever you travel on an airplane, in-flight safety instructions are given before takeoff. One of those instructions is to put on your oxygen mask first, before you assist others with theirs. The first thing you must do in the event of a disaster is to protect yourself and your place, making sure that everyone is OK where you are before you go to help others. Put on protective gear (it's good to have these items stashed in an easy-to-reach location beforehand), and shut off main valves to water and gas if you have to. Retrieve the OK/Help hangers provided by Orange County Emergency Services and hang one on your front door or place it in a visible spot in a front window. This will let emergency personnel know whether or not help is needed.

First Steps

Once you have made sure your home or location and its occupants are safe and secure, proceed to the Neighborhood Gathering Place (discussed in Step 3). Now it's time to put all of your hard work and planning into action. Here are some first steps:

  • Select a leader to direct overall effort
  • Develop on Action Plan - given the circumstances and resources available to you at that time, device what you want to do, how to do it, and give it a timeframe
  • Organize into teams, with a Team Leader for each team. As discussed in Step 3: Recruit Leaders, each team should have 3 to 7 people

In the next post, we'll introduce the Incident Command System, a valuable and effective practice used by first responders in CERT during an emergency.

Next: Plan Your Approach - Incident Command Page