Step 5: Plan Your Approach — In the Event of An Emergency, What Do You Do First?

September 29, 2014

A group of neighbors performing search and rescue

In Step 5: Planning Your Approach, the last step in 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 the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and hang it 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.

Once you have made sure your home or location and its occupants are safe and secure, proceed to the Neighborhood Gathering Place (as discussed in Step 3: Scout Your Area.) 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 the overall effort.

  • Develop an Action Plan — given the circumstances and resources available to you at that time, decide 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 2: Recruit Leaders, each team should have 3-7 people.

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

Learn more about Step 5: Plan Your Strategy

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