This week’s Disaster Preparedness Month tip is simple: Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community.

Do you know your neighbors? Regardless of the type of emergency, you may face or where you live, it is important to know your neighbors. Here is why:

  • Emergency response teams may be delayed
  • Your neighbors may be the first ones who can help
  • They know where you live and will have a better idea of what you might need

Meet your neighbors today! Being prepared for an emergency begins with “hello”.

  • Introduce yourself and let them know you live nearby
  • Tell them you’re making a plan in the event of a emergency and want to share your information
  • Exchange contact information such as a phone number or email

Aimed at preparing groups of citizens in our community to prepare for and respond to disasters, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program follows a model developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is offered in cities across the United States.  The idea behind this model is to teach people in neighborhoods how to help each other in the first few minutes or hours following a disaster – before emergency responder are able to get to them to render professional help. The CERT program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Shutting off utilities during a disaster is important when utilities have been disrupted. There may be a need to turn off certain utilities in order to control additional damage from the disaster. This usually involves turning off one or more of the following: natural gas, water and electricity. Emergency service providers and utility employees will be overwhelmed following the disaster, so it’s important that your family and your neighbors know how and where to control the utilities. Pre-planning and fast actions can save both lives and property.

Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Remember; turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

Follow the links below to find more information about your local utilities:

City of Lakewood
City of University Place
Town of Steilacoom

Looking for more information about disaster preparedness and what you can do to prepare? Visit

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