10 Tips for Preparing for Emergency

With increasing climate disasters and exposure to industry hazards, emergency scenarios are becoming a recurring reality. The five-alarm fire at a scrapyard in Cully last March was a grave reminder that low-income and people of color communities face these disasters more often, due to disproportionate exposure to hazards from the natural and built environments, like auto-dismantler facilities.

Preparing for disasters as a family and neighborhood can help to build stronger and more resilient communities. However, stocking up supplies can be expensive and trainings around emergency preparation are time-intensive and often taught in English only.

Following the scrapyard fire in March, Verde hosted community meetings with a panel of agency representatives to respond to neighbors’ concerns about exposure and recovery, as well as ideas for how the city can better prevent and mitigate the next disaster.

Through these meeting, Verde, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM), and Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) leader Annette Pronk came together to address some of the barriers the Cully community faces in preparing for emergencies.

On Tuesday, July 17th, PBEM hosted an Introduction to Emergency Preparedness workshop at Living Cully Plaza, with free food, childcare and interpretation to Spanish for participants provided by PBEM, as well as supplies for starting individual preparation kits. Read below to catch up on some of information shared!

10 Summary Tips for Staying Prepared
1. Stay Informed! Sign up for Public Alerts, a City run alert system that sends you texts based on where you live about road/bridges closures, transit, public health and safety, school and weather. PublicAlerts.org

2. Start Stocking an Emergency Preparedness Kit! Find a large container you can move easily, like a garbage can on wheels or sturdy crates. Store it in a place easily accessible during an emergency. Use this list as a guide for what you might want to start stocking in your emergency kit. Start small! Buy one extra can of food each time you go to the grocery store.

3. Store Water! Experts recommend storing enough water for your home to last 3 days. Each person needs 1 gallon of water per day. You can purchase water jugs for storing your own tap water or purchase water bottles. If you store in water jugs, sanitize the container first by using 1 teaspoon of odorless bleach and 4 cups of water, and let it air dry completely before filling with new water. The water can last for up to 6 months stored this way.

4. Prepare for you Medical Needs! In a disaster scenario, city, county and federal government agencies will not be immediately available to deliver medications. You can prepare by talking to your physician about bulking up on important medications and planning alternatives for non-life-threating medications. Make photocopies of your prescriptions! And folks who are dependent on power should register with their power companies to be on the list to prioritize during an emergency:
– PG&E: 800-542-8818
– Pacific Power Customer Service: 1-888-221-7070

5. Stock a First Aid Kit! It’s good to have your own medical supplies on hand. The Red Cross recommends keeping these items on hand in the event of an emergency.

6. Create a Family Communications Plan! Use this document to help collect contact information for everyone in your home and other family and friends who you could call on in the event of a disaster. Make sure to ask people before listing them as your emergency contact. And remember, in the event of a city-wide disaster, communications networks, such as mobile phones and computers may be unreliable, so it’s important to choose a meet-up plan if you cannot get in touch with your family. Finally, use text over calling if you can, as it will help to leave phone lines open for urgent communications needs.

7. Locate the closest Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node (BEECN)! A BEECN is a place to go in Portland after a major earthquake to ask for emergency assistance if a phone service is down, or report sever damage or injury. The closest BEECN in the Cully Neighborhood is at Rigler Elementary School. Don’t live near Rigler? Check out this map to find the BEECN closest to you.

8. Gather Important Documents! Use this check list to compile important documents that will help you access appropriate medical attention and insurance support. Be sure to store in a plastic bag to protect from water damage, and keep in your emergency kit so that you can access it easily.

9. Prepare your home for fire! Red Cross volunteers install free smoke alarms in your home. If you are in need of a fire alarm, schedule an appointment with them by calling 503-528-5783 or go online.

10. Practice your plan! Practice with your family and friends what you would do in the case of a fire, earthquake, or other disaster. How would you evacuate? Where would you go? Memorize your contact information as a family!

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