Municipal government has the responsibility to prepare for and manage any emergency occurrence so recovery can take place as soon as possible.
Despite a city's preparations, it is important to recognize the likelihood that a major disaster, such as a serious earthquake, could overwhelm emergency responders and resources for several days or longer.
This is the time when neighborhoods are asked to organize and begin helping each other. A prime illustration of neighbor supporting neighbor occurred in December when a windstorm struck Davis County.
Governmental bodies recognize that local residents need to be prepared and trained to effectively work together to assess damages and respond to their own emergency needs.
Residents are encouraged to prepare ahead of time by learning what specific hazards they are most vulnerable to, based on where they live, and learn about emergency notification methods.
Generally, residents would be most likely to learn of a developing emergency through the media (Emergency Alert System), a recorded message via the city's emergency notification system, or door-to-door notification by emergency personnel.
Some steps you can take:
* Develop a personal emergency plan and periodically review it with the family.
* Find out what plans are in place at other locations where the family spends a lot of time, such as school and work.
* Acquire and maintain essential disaster supplies, such as food, water and medical supplies.
* Secure water heaters and other heavy objects in the event of an earthquake.
A huge asset in disaster preparation is the Community Emergency Response Team course, which instructs residents how to effectively care for family members during an emergency. A wealth of information can also be found at bereadyutah.gov.
Many Northern Utah communities participate with Citizen Corps Councils and are organized for emergency preparedness and neighborhood watch purposes into districts, areas and blocks.
Being involved in your community organization is essential for disaster preparedness. This occurs by serving as a block captain, or area or district coordinator.
Get to know the block captain and participate in neighborhood preparedness activities. Get acquainted with your neighbors and encourage them to plan and prepare. Help block captains identify the various skills and preparedness resources neighbors have that could be useful during a tragedy when emergency responders may not be available.
As a final point, take a CERT course to help your neighbors in a crisis after first meeting the needs of your own family members.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.