By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The earthquake that has killed thousands in Turkey and Syria is a massive disaster that reminds us all on a personal level that preparedness is vital. It can be life-saving both during and after a quake. Local preparedness advocates have long been working to find new ways to get more people to get ready.
Toward that goal, a recent family-education meeting at Gatewood Elementary School doubled as a sort of prototype for volunteer preparedness educators to use for future gatherings in other school/neighborhood settings.
Volunteers from the Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs set up tables to share “Urban Survival Skills” – how to prepare your family, your school, your home, your community, as well as “tech hacks” you can use.
If you aren’t familiar with the Emergency Communication Hubs, here’s an explanation. In short, they are spots where volunteer Hub Captains will set up communication-coordination spots if a disaster takes out normal channels of communication. One easy way to start your preparedness journey is to know your nearest hub location (here’s the West Seattle map) – and if there’s not one nearby, get involved and start one! At the recent Gatewood Elementary meeting, participants milled around the tables, learning about the Hubs and about specific points of preparation.
Ann Forrest from Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs helped coordinate the meeting.
She said that in a larger venue, they could have as many as 17 educational stations. As another volunteer, Deb Barker, showed us, some of the tips are simple, like making sure you always have shoes by your bed in case you’re sleeping when disaster strikes and you have to escape through broken glass and other debris. Also – ensure there’s no furniture (like unsecured bookshelves) that might fall on you. This simple list circulated at the meeting offered suggestions:
Partnership with institutional leaders, when applicable, is important in making a plan. Gatewood principal Kyna Hogg explained to the families at the meeting that they do several kinds of drills regularly, including an evacuation drill.
The families also heard from Forrest about Hub operations – including what they’re not meant for, as well as what they are. Example: Hubs won’t be places to get food/water, but they will be places to connect you with information about finding it if you need it. And a point of pride: West Seattle has more hubs than any other part of the city, as the movement got its start here.
So what’s next? A longtime West Seattle leader in the hub organization, Cindi Barker, stresses that this was a pilot, and intended to see whether people found it useful and interesting. So far, she told us, feedback indicated that it was, so they’re working toward another school meeting, possibly for West Seattle Elementary. From there, the concept could spread, If you have questions, here’s how to contact Seattle Emergency Hubs.