Knowing Your Neighbors Can Save Lives

Do you know who in your neighborhood owns a generator? What about who is living at home by themselves? Or who has nursing or first aid experience?

We may not know these answers right now, but if an earthquake, flood, or severe storm were to wreak havoc in our community, these would be helpful things to know.

Last night, we gathered with a group of community members to learn how to prepare ourselves and our neighborhoods in the event of a disaster. Guided by a presentation from Michelle Boll with the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, we learned about implementing the Map Your Neighborhood Initiative.

The MYN Program, started by a Washington local, LuAn Johnson, is designed to develop and improve disaster readiness at the neighborhood level. In the event of a disaster, neighbors must learn to rely on each other during the immediate hours or days after a crisis due to the anticipated delay in responses from fire, medical, police, and utility personnel. This may require learning the specific needs and skills of neighbors so that everyone is cared for.

In our places of employment, in schools and competitive sports, we learn to operate under an “every man for himself” mentality. Our success and thriving often depend on our ability to advance ourselves at the expense of others. In the event of a disaster, we will be tempted to resort to the same rules: hoarding supplies or disregarding our neighbor’s well being.

But our survival might not depend on our own abilities and skills. Our own bodies might be compromised, our assets damaged, our loved ones vulnerable. As Boll stated, “During an emergency, your most immediate source of help will be the neighbors living around you.” Neighborhoods that have learned to work together in emergency and disaster situations can save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and trauma, and ensure the best chances of survival for all.

As our neighborhoods in North Creek continue to grow and develop, it will not only be important to prepare ourselves and our homes, but to get to know our neighbors and community. Because those relationships could end up being the difference between life and death.