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Community Preparedness

It is never too late to institute a disaster preparedness plan within your community. Public health and safety in the event of a disaster are increased as plans are devised and implemented. Tips included in this effective practice can also be modified to create a disaster preparedness plan within your community. Disaster often strikes without warning. The best way to prepare for disaster is to create a specific plan of action that can be put in place at a moment's notice.

Action
Arrange meetings of community members through the development Community Disaster Preparedness committee or through another civic association for example the Civil Society Networks in each of the 14 Municipal Corporations and work together to develop a community disaster preparedness plan in your respective community. Begin with a discussion of the following topics:
 
Community warning system. Community members should establish and know their local warning system. In the event of a disaster, local radio and television stations will provide information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and other emergency procedures. Depending on the circumstances, any one of three protective actions (shelter-in-place, prepare-to-evacuate, or evacuate) may be appropriate.
 
Neighborhood directory. Create a list of home and work phone numbers and e-mail addresses for all community members, noting contact information and plans for children and seniors who may be home alone during emergency situations. Include important phone numbers, such as the local emergency management office and the non-emergency numbers for the local police department, local fire department, and ambulance service.

Members with special needs. Identify members of the community who may need special assistance during an emergency. These members might include seniors, individuals who are hearing or mobility impaired, and children who are home alone. Develop a plan to assist them during an emergency.
 
Members with special skills or equipment. Identify members of the community who have special skills (medical, technical) or equipment that they would be willing to share in the event of an emergency. Consider CPR and first aid training for community volunteers. To find CPR and first aid training in your area, contact the ODPM or the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society.
 
Caring for pets
. Community members should design a plan to treat with their pets in an emergency.
 
Property protection. Community members should have working fire extinguishers and know how to shut off their utilities such as gas, electricity, and water in the event of an emergency. House address numbers should be large and well-lighted so emergency personnel can find homes easily. Consider having a representative from a local utility company or fire department to speak to your Community Disaster Committee about property protection during a disaster.
 
Evacuation procedures. Develop a neighborhood evacuation plan. Contact the local emergency management office and find out ahead of time what evacuation routes have been designated for your area. Distribute maps to community members. Become familiar with major and alternate routes to leave your area before a disaster.
 
Local shelters. Provide the location of all county shelters to community members. (Shelters are often located in public school buildings.) Include their pet policies, if possible. Also, identify any community members who would be willing to provide shelter to others in an emergency.
 
School emergency plans. Find out what your local school district and day care centres plan do in the event of an emergency. Make sure children know where to meet parents in the event schools are evacuated or an early release occurs.
 
Family emergency plans. Encourage community members to develop family preparedness plans that cover emergency contact information for family members, predetermined meeting places, home evacuation procedures, emergency pet care, safe storage of food and water, and assembling disaster supplies kits.

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