How prepared are you?
We think of the general "preparedness level" of a home or community as being at one of these 3 stages:
- Starting: Just learning about Emergency Preparedness and the resources available through WPV-Ready. Working on the first and most important 3 steps, the "Emergency Preparedness Jump Start."
- Download our Emergency Preparedness Jump Start PDF...
- 1. Stay Informed. Register with SMC Alert so you get important emergency alerts. Learn about the other ways to get information.
- Learn more on our Stay Informed page...
- 2. Make a Plan. Know how you will find and communicate with family and friends, where to meet after an evacuation, and who to share the information with.
- Learn more on our Make a Plan page...
- 3. Get a Go-Bag. Have a bag packed and ready to go, so if you have to evacuate in front of a fire, you will have what you need to survive in relative comfort and calm.
- Learn more on our Get a Go-Bag page...
- Basic: All of the Starting points, plus you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, you have fire extinguishers, and you know proper evacuation procedures.
- Prepared: You have all of the above points, plus the rest of the “Basics of Preparedness Checklist” items checked off.
And there are many opportunities to get involved in advanced topics. You might want to pick up skills like First Aid, CPR, AED, or CERT Basic Training.
For a home, the levels are just as described above. For a community, having half of all homes at a level puts the community at that level. For instance, if half of the homes have gotten to the Basic level, the whole community is at the Basic level.
Steps to starting a new Ready Community
Start small and expand. We start where natural communities exist. That could be as small as a handful of homes on a single street, or as large as a Home Owners' Association with hundreds of homes. To help you understand what the district-level leaders are looking for in a Ready Community, here is a simple list of those items!
- 1. There are two or more Community Leaders working as a team.
- Success hinges on committed community leaders and reliable volunteers. Creating a team helps to share the load. Every Ready Community should have at least 2 Community Leaders. Not only does that make it easy to share the work, but there is no worry if a leader is on vacation when the community needs support. It's also very important to have someone who can take over the primary leadership role when current leaders leave the area.
- 2. The Ready Community is identified and connected.
- All residents have been contacted and their contact information has been collected, including emergency contact information, registration with SMCAlert, and connection to online information sources. Residents who do not want to participate or who cannot be contacted are noted appropriately. This information is kept in the online Community Editor tool.
- 3. Prepared individuals and households, measured and managed.
- All residents know about and are getting support to use the Ready Community checklists. These online tools tell Community Leaders who is ready for a next step, who is looking for help with a project, and how things are progressing in the community. For instance I, the volunteer writing this sentence, use the checklist to keep track of the basics that need work around my home. I can tell my Community Leader about my need to get my fire extinguishers checked. And the community can see how we are doing generally on things like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
- 4. Communications are flowing. Programs are being promoted.
- Community Leaders should have easy access to the materials they need to spread information. Preparedness news and information are accessible. Webinars and events are publicized. And feedback is confirming that, for instance, all residents are registered with SMC Alert.
- 5. Help with district-wide improvement planning.
- We always need more volunteers. But we don't want to burden our Community Leaders with lots of work that isn't rewarding. We do not expect everyone to be interested in planning district-wide events, or writing articles. There is enough to do just keeping the checkboxes checked. We DO ask all Community Leaders to participate in feedback opportunities. We value all suggestions, at any time. But a couple of times each year we also just want to reach out to all of our Ready Communities and rally a snapshot of our needs.
And there is plenty of opportunity to be involved in wider planning and projects. We operate a WPV-Ready Committee that meets monthly to plan and manage projects. We have a number of projects going on at any time. Both of the Towns in our district have Emergency Preparedness Committees that are involved in their own projects, and always need volunteers. Never hesitate to ask about things for a volunteer to volunteer for.
- 6. Risk assessments are being done.
- This is a simple matter of managing some more detailed checklists. We make it all easy with the online tools. Use the "Basics of Emergency Preparedness" checklist to manage the big picture and get the big disaster threats under control. Use the "Fire Risk Assessment" tool to do a detailed analysis of the ignition risks faced by each home in your Ready Community.
- 7. Community outreach is being done.
- Have some gatherings to organize basic preparedness and promote topics. Emergency preparedness topics can seem like a lot of new concerns, so they are most easily adopted over time, among friends, in casual conversations. We help with presentations, give-aways, consulting, and so forth. If you have neighbors who want to hear more, we have volunteers who want to tell all about it!
- 8. CERT response is integrated.
- When disaster strikes, WPV-CERT, our Community Emergency Response Team, will be working to manage small problems before they become large problems. Knowing how to gather information in your community, and pass that to WPV-CERT and other responders, can save time and suffering in a disaster. You should know who the trained CERTs in your community are, what happens in a CERT activation, and how to integrate with CERT for help and support.
- 9. Sufficient resources are being allocated and people are incentivized.
- At the district level, Ready Communities are tracked and incentivized to reach preparedness goals. At the Ready Community level, residents are also tracked and incentivized to reach target goals. Volunteer time is scarce, and we depend on our volunteers to help us all do the most good for the most people, by making the WPV-Ready program engaging and rewarding at all levels. That means identifying the resources needed to allow Ready Communities to succeed in their goals.
- 10. Volunteers are supported and motivated.
- An important measure of the success of the whole program is the extent to which volunteers feel motivated. That means there has to be a lot of attention paid to supporting all volunteers, and providing a program where their efforts lead to real good in their lives and their community. Not every job is a good fit for every volunteer, and nobody should ever feel obligated to continue doing a thing that makes them feel bad. It is a specific goal of the WPV-Ready program to make all volunteers feel strongly engaged and motivated in whatever way we need to, not just by supplying resources but also by building the program our volunteers need, in order to feel more safe in the face of unknown disasters to come.