Many neighborhoods already have a “neighborhood watch” plan for security. Arrange a meeting once a year to discuss contingency plans in case of an earthquake. Are some of your neighbors handicapped or elderly? Are there small children? Do some of your neighbors have special skills? There are advantages to having a plumber, carpenter, nurse, or doctor for a neighbor. Does each of you know where your neighbors’ gas shut-off valves are located? Be prepared to pool your resources. You can make lifelong friends during a major calamity. Your county or city emergency services coordinator, police department, and Red Cross office will be glad to help you get organized.
The Humboldt County, California, Office of Emergency Services (707-268-2500) has information on forming a Neighborhood Emergency Service Team (NEST) in your neighborhood. These groups of neighbors, members of local organizations, and employees of local businesses, headed by an elected NEST captain, are organized against any disaster—not just an earthquake. Seattle’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has established more than three hundred and sixty neighborhood teams serving twenty-five thousand city residents. The city of Bellevue has similar neighborhood organizations with team captains; these meet several times per year.