We are living in a unique time in American history: Never before have so many people known so little about their neighbors. That’s unfortunate, because, even though we tend to think of preparedness as an individual mandate, the truth is that neighbors who can pull together while responding to a disaster stand a better chance of coming through the situation successfully.
Fortunately, getting to know your neighbors can be as easy as going next door and saying hello—or as fun as organizing a block party the city won’t soon forget. In either case, from a preparedness perspective, it’s a great time to share some key information. When you find yourself in the midst of an emergency, it may be too late.
Specifically, you and your neighbors should know:
Who Has Specific Resources
Yes, everyone should prepare for a disaster by maintaining enough food, water, and supplies to carry their family through the tough times until things get back to normal. There are situations, however, in which you may need something beyond the basics. So ask yourself, do any of your neighbors have specialized tools? Does someone on your street have a generator? Certainly, knowing who has a truck with a plow could be advantageous after a winter storm.
And of course, don’t forget to tell your neighbors what resources you have that they might need to know about!
Know Who Has the Skills
Unfortunately, even the best tools are worthless without someone who knows how to use them. In a normal situation, you can always call in outside help to get specialized jobs done—for a price. During a disaster, that’s not always possible, so it pays to learn what skills the people who are already around you can bring to the table. Try to find out if there’s a doctor living in the neighborhood. How about a mechanic, or other tradesmen? Knowing who to consult for a specific problem during a time of crisis can save time, resources, or even lives.
Know Who Probably Needs Help
Finally, get to know who is most likely to require extra help during an emergency. Disasters can be tough for anyone to handle, let alone the elderly, the infirm, or those with special needs. Make the time to check-in on these folks when situations get bad. Lend them a hand. That’s what good neighbors do.
Never forget that while you must take responsibility for yourself, in the midst of a disaster, safety and even survival can quickly become a team sport. You might make hedges against disaster, but you cannot prepare for every eventuality. Getting to know your neighbors is a great way to increase the odds of a positive outcome. Beyond increasing those odds, however, is something even deeper—a moral obligation. In some sense, you are your brother’s keeper. Just as he is yours.