September 23, 2014

Preparedness Party Offers Fun Approach to Address Serious Challenge

Photo courtesy of glenoakscanyon.org

Photo courtesy of glenoakscanyon.org

It is a sad fact, that getting people or organizations to discuss disaster preparedness topics is easier to do just after they have experienced a disaster.  Call it human nature, procrastination or avoidance — but, this remains a constant challenge for nearly all emergency management and disaster response professional teams.

In a rather recent posting, however, we are directed to a rather unique approach submitted by one of the neighborhood group organizations of Boston, MA called the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).  This group encourages people to host a “Preparedness Pie Party” — in order to better engage neighbors to talk about preparedness.

Sandra Wechsler, coordinator of the JPNDC campaign, describes the suggested event as somewhere where “…neighbors eat pie and take a few minutes to look at FEMA’s emergency preparedness checklist.  Sometimes one subgroup volunteers to coordinate the bulk purchase of flashlights and supplies, while another puts together a simple contact list with everyone’s name and basic information.”

This idea may not be as quirky as you might think …because all too often, in the first 24-48 hours after a major disruption, it is our neighbors who we will need to rely on to make sure everyone in the neighborhood has enough food, water, warmth, and shelter, especially in the case of power outages and disrupted phone service.

A coordinated, neighborhood response can also help state and federal authorities identify and serve our needs most effectively.

Our staff believes that supporting the formation of small neighborhood “Preparedness Pie Parties” to get to know our neighbors and put in place some very basic measures to strengthen our neighborhood response could also help to make sure that those organizations depending upon those same individuals to report to their emergency management stations in a disaster will have a better chance of that happening, as well. In other words, if our own “home” base is not covered during and after a calamity, we’re hardly prepared to do the best we can for our companies, employees and other constituents.

If you are interested in learning more about this approach, there is also a great FREE “how-to guide” for hosting such a party available.

In summary, the most basic preparation can easily mean the difference between a resilient, well-coordinated community response, and a group of disconnected, isolated neighbors waiting for help from afar. And in the meantime, why not get to know your neighbors better and eat pie?

Click here to download a copy of the “how-to guide” for hosting your own “Preparedness Pie Party”.

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