For many people, the ice storm this past January brought the message home that when disaster strikes, you can never be too ready.
From heating, food, drinkable water to first aid, safety and communications, do you have a plan for your household when the power's out, hazards lurk and your community's police and fire personnel are busy responding to the most pressing of emergencies while you're left largely alone to fend for yourselves?
The beauty behind the message of , a community-wide event on Tuesday, August 7, is that you don't have to do it alone. NNO is not a single event but rather a collection of neighborhood gatherings in which you meet and get to know the people in your neighborhood.
According to Trip Hart, who chairs the local Linking Civility, Compassion and Kindness (LINCCK) task force which is spearheading the event, the purpose of NNO is to make the community healthier by knowing who lives beside us. In , he said, "...if a friendly smile can be shared more often, if a helping hand can be offered more readily. Who are the young children nearby that it never hurts to have another pair of watchful eyes for? Is there anyone in your neighborhood with special needs that in a time of emergency would welcome assistance?"
In the event of an emergency, your immediate source for help are the people who live near you. Hart said during a Red Cross presentation Tuesday that having a plan in the event of a disaster will be one of the themes of this year's NNO event.
But while having that community safety net is vital in the preparedness plan, the responsibility still falls on individual households to have their own plans and survival supplies and kits in place.
According to Red Cross volunteers:
- Officials now recommend households have anywhere between 3 to 7 days worth of food and supplies following a disaster
- KIRO-AM 710 is the official emergency radio station in this area
- KOMO 1000 AM is also an excellent resource for community updates
- You can dial 2-1-1 for information about your community that doesn't escalate to the urgency of using 9-1-1, which will likely be jammed with calls anyway
- It's a good idea to also have an out-of-area emergency contact who wouldn't be affected by a local or regional disaster
And that's just the tip of the iceberg in the knowledge available on emergency preparedness in the Enumclaw area. To help you get up to speed, LINCCK is also putting together an emergency preparedness package for NNO participants that including guidelines from the American Red Cross, a nine-step plan for mapping your neighborhood provided by Washington state, as well as a limited number of emergency flashlights and whistles.
Lois McGreen, who hosted a neighborhood gathering , said it benefitted her community in January when many people were without power for several days. Though she's lived in her home on McHugh Avenue for 42 years, people nearby still didn't know each other and just having name tags proved helpful later on when neighbors were checking on each other, she said.
Last year was the first year of NNO in Enumclaw, Hart said, and about a dozen gatherings took place. This year, organizers have also invited firefighters, first responders, police or city officials to the gatherings to further bolster the sense of community and to provide information for residents about issues that matter to them.
"By knowing each other, watching out for and being aware of normal patterns of activity in one’s neighborhood, everyone gains from increased security, reduced crime and a sense of community," Hart said.
To find out more or to learn how you can host a gathering contact the at 360-802-3206.