Getting people involved in community preparedness will take some effort. You need a way that can engage your neighbors so that they can be informed about threats and issues and became educated on how to plan and prepare. You can provide informational resources for their own research but it can jump start the effort if you plan meetings where they can learn, ask questions and start to become part of a community. Meeting in person breaks down barriers and can start to build trusting relationships. There is no better way to do this than hosting meetings about preparedness.
This is part 3 in a series on Community Preparedness. If you have yet to do so, please read part 1, Community Preparedness – Engaging our Neighbors for Mutual Survival and part 2 Community Preparedness – Getting Started.
The initial meeting should be to define why there is a need for community preparedness and what you would like to accomplish with the group. Depending on the experience of the attendees, the first few meetings might should be on practical applications of preparedness like short-term local power outages, food shortages and pandemics. Once you have some initial buy in and education you can start discussing some of the harder things to swallow with larger events.
Preparing for each meeting
Some thoughts on getting prepared for your meeting:
- Write out an agenda and practice going through the presentation. Ii will give you an idea of how long or short the talk will be so that you will know if you have too much or too little content. Make sure you talk about restrooms, emergency exits, fire extinguishers and AEDs that are available.
- Create slide presentations and possibly printouts. It is good for people to have something to take notes on that they can take home. Keep finished documents on Google Docs so that people joining later can review them.
- Think about what a good door prize would be for the topic. Could be a water filter, books on the subject, fire starting kit etc.
- Plan to have some bottled water and a simple snack available.
- Plan ahead for someone to take attendance and get names and emails of new people attending.
- Have a welcome packet ready for new people that contains your contact information, mission, goals and objectives and informational resources (see part 2). You could also do this with a one-page handout that has links to the Google Docs folder where they reside.
If you have some preparedness experience behind you then you will have a ton of information that you can share. Start out with some easy, important topics that are not too deep. Go with what you or other initial members know about first. This will make it easier to create outlines and speaking notes because it is familiar to you. This will also give you time to research and prepare for subjects that you do not know a lot about. If you don’t feel like you know enough, do some research on the topic and you will find many talking points. You will likely find that you know more than you think you do.
The following are suggested topics that you might discuss in your meetings. Some are informational and others could be hands on practice depending on your setting. You certainly could not practice starting fires in the library, but you could discuss them and invite people to come to your backyard to practice. Some of the ideas will not take a lot of time so they might be grouped together. Others could take more than one meeting. A lot of these will be obvious to seasoned preppers but they still may spark some ideas for your meetings.
- Water – How to filter and purify, storage options, need for handpumps on wells
- Food Storage Options – Pantry Food, Canning, Freeze-Dried Food, Storing Food in Mylar Bags.
- Individual Preparedness – How much for how long, creating a supply and equipment inventory.
- Family Communication Plan
- First Aid and Medical Supplies – Talk about creating smaller kits for your vehicles and office and the need to have a large supply for your home. Discuss how a laceration to a limb could wipe out your gauze pads and rolls within a few days.
- Fires – Building a fire starter kit and the different devices and materials that are available.
- Building a temporary shelter for a get home or bug out situation.
- Get Home Bags – Why, what is needed and how to pack.
- Weekend Bugout Practice – Meet at a local campground and see how you fair with only what is in your bugout bag.
- Plan day hikes and stop to make a meal and identify edible plants.
- Possible Threats and their impacts
- Why the power grid is vulnerable – Education on Solar Flares, EMPs and physical attacks.
- Civil Unrest
- Planning for Bugging Out/Evacuation – Multiple options, multiple routes per location, what to take. Discuss your local Emergency Management Plans.
- Fire Safety and Using a Fire Extinguisher, preparing your area for wild fires.
- Engaging your neighbors that are not involved. Get the group to brainstorm on ideas for reaching out. Provide Checklists and other informational content to give to neighbors to help move them towards preparedness.
- Get prepared to help your neighbors – Obtain information that can help you support and take care of your neighbors that do not prepare.
- Who is in the household and where do they work? You could offer to pick up or watch their kids until they get home.
- When are they normally home and what vehicles do they drive? This would help if there is a tornado or flood to determine if someone may need rescuing.
- Creating Emergency Supply packets in case they are displaced or there is damage to their home.
- Offer to watch over their home if they have to leave.
- Find out their contact info and who else they could contact about you.
- Herbal Medicines
- Communications – Walkie Talkies, Ham and CB. Creating a communications tree and setup monthly or weekly check ins via radios, phone/video calls, texting or social media groups.
- Improving Home Security and understanding Operational Security.
- Preparedness Resources – Websites, books and magazines and people’s experience with them.
- Documenting your estate and medical information.
- Preparing for a Pandemic.
- Building a light kit – Flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, oil lamps, candles etc. Storing flashlights in several rooms for quick use and storing extras and batteries that can be found quickly.
- How to stay warm in the winter when you have no heat.
- Community Security – Neighborhood Watch to more robust security measures when they are needed.
Starting a Community Preparedness group can be slow going for a while but hosting meetings to educate and inform will go a long way towards getting buy in and participation. Take some time to plan out several meetings and start inviting people!
If you have any comments on other meeting ideas please feel free to share in the comments! Thanks, and have a blessed day.
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