Friday, February 22, 2008

A fellow CERT needs some HOA preparedness advice

Hi folks!
Steve Richardson is a fellow CERT from the CERT 14 class. He is looking for advice on preparedness items for his community Home owners' association. Please feel free to post your preparedness thoughts and ideas on the blog; or, you can contact Steve directly at RiStph [at] (replace the [at] with @).
your volunteer PIO

Situation. My Homeowners Association (Daventry HOA) has asked me to come up with a plan to survey and prepare the residents of Daventry & Ramblewood for CERT-type situations. I am a member of the Daventry Safety Cmte. and a Neighborhood Watch Block Capt.

I have had articles published on our Daventry web site and written CERT articles for the HOA newsletter.

I have prepared a resident survey if anyone wants to see it.

If the HOA Board decides that we (Daventry/Ramblewood communties) need to have some "minimal, essential" equipment on-hand and available, I'm looking for ideas from the other CERTs members, especially those CERT teams from other "HOA communities" as to what they might recommend as a starter kit for an 1000 household mixed community of single family and townhouses, two miles from the Springfield Mixing Bowl.


  1. Steve,
    Buy up some 55 gallon water barrels; plastic works best.Store some water supplies. Lay in a quantity of water purification tablets; and lay in a good supply of bleach (UNSCENTED BLEACH) for water purification and general cleaning. Teach the residents they actually have a supply of water available already in their homes (the water heater). The toilet tank (NOT THE BOWL!!!!) also has drinkable water in it. (Although DO NOT USE the water if your'e using toilet bowl cleaners (the ones that turn the water blue) in the tank.
    Encourage each family to have their own disaster bag with as many days supplies as they can comfortably prepare for. (I am NOT a fan of the "3 days' supplies concept, I think it's one of FEMA's more lame! and misleading pieces of advice ever given to the public. People within the prepper community call 3 days supplies the "hors d'ourves" meal plan.
    See if the neighbors would participate in a supply inventory-then go around and talk with each family in the community
    and inventory what items the families have usable for disaster response (chainsaws,any mechanics in the community? who's a doctor, whos' a nurse; who cans vegetables in the summer? Things like that.)
    Teach each of the families in the complex HOW to shelter in place. A friend of mine made a first rate shelter in place video I'd be happy to loan to you.
    There's a few ideas that you might find useful....

  2. You can live without food for 5-7 days, about 3 days without water. Potable water is key. The problem is how does a HOA store emergency water for it's community? Taking a step back, what sort of emergencies is the HOA planning? Water storage procedures for a nuclear and/or chemical attack are more stringent then weather, electrical, fire based emergencies.

    Assuming just a preparedness plan for weather, electrical and fire, the amount of water you need to have on hand is not that much or none at all as long as you augment your stockpile with a means to gather and filter water. I personally carry a pump style water filter with me in the field and a combo iodine/bleach dropper to kill of viruses if I am getting water from a really nasty source. The upside is that the pump, carbon filters and iodine/bleach drops have an almost infinite shelf life, bottled water does not.

    Another option with water filtration is to make your own filters instead of buying. A simple water filter is to run water through sand and gravel ( or you can get more complex by using activated charcoal ( Problem with home made filers is the development of algae in the middle layers. To replace that layer means destroying half your filter. Building each layer separately in it's own frame and sandwiching the frames together speeds up that process.

  3. The radio training workshop we developed could also be used effectively with Neighborhood Watch. Disaster survival basics are always a good topic. The .ppt training materials may be downloaded at these links:

    CERT Two-Way Radio Fundamentals Course -

    Disaster Survival Skills for the Urban Environment -

  4. A stockpile of medical supplies can be big. Problem an HOA faces is where to store the supplies so that they are accessible with the realization that location will become your center for medical operations.

    The supplies themselves should be nonperishable items without expiration dates. Medications such as aspirin. anti-histamines and such could be included but they don't have a long shelf life and are common enough items that can be scavenged from the local community. One cautionary warning about first aid supplies, weather proof and especially waterproof is the way to go. I used to have a first aid kit strapped to the under side of my passenger seat in my Jeep till one afternoon in the woods I ended up in a deep waterhole. The medical kit was submerged in chocolate milk water and pretty much trashed. My medical kits items are now packaged in water tight containers or bags (

    Prescription medications; epi-pens, anti-anxiety, opiates, pain killers, blood thinners and such should be left to the residents in your community. Most international adventure travel companies will handle prescription meds in one of two ways. They have the customer go to their family doctor and request a week or however long of medications to cover the wide spectrum of bacterial, virus and fungal infections along with a wide spectrum steroid, pain killers (muscular and nerve) and the meds the traveler is currently prescribed. Or the travel company with have an on-hand medical officer that will stock the medication for the expedition and the traveler just needs to bring their current meds.

    For an HOA without a medical officer, having residents go to their family doctor and explain they are building a disaster medical kit for their family is the preferred route.

  5. David and Ed,
    Some GREAT ideas here! I'd agree with you David; let the individuals within the community handle procuring their own meds. Most doctors will write extended prescriptions for maintenance meds; so it shouldn't be a problem with individuals and their meds.
    I would probably concentrate on getting each family acquiring their own basic first aid kits; then as an HOA getting a larger basic first aid kit (you could station it at the pool or rec center within the community).As David mentioned, waterproof is good..........
    Depending on the threat your'e trying to anticipate; you may wish to tailor the items needed for your community's response. For an NBC type event; you may wish to purchase a geiger counter (even more important, learn how to use it!!).Contact Shane O'Connor at; he refurbishes old civil defense geiger counters and dosimeters and would definitely give you a good deal on a properly working,calibrated unit. I have a small quantity (10) high range (0-200 rem) dosimeters I would donate to your community HOA if you'd like them; these are units in good working order and calibrated. I would recommend going through training!!!! if your'e considering this sort of response effort though. Radiological monitoring training can be had online through FEMA's EMI web site.
    In this same vein, people would consider stocking a supply of Potassium Iodide (KI). I would not recommend that; if KI is not used within 12 hours of a radiological event then the effectiveness of it is only half of what it would have been if taken immediately after the event. After 24 hours; KI is totally useless. sheltering is more effective in preventing radiological injuries (remember, the L/D 50 for a rad event is 450 rem-50% of the people exposed to this amount of ionizing radiation WILL die....the other 50% will recover; but it will take weeks and pretty intensive medical care.)
    Your proximity to the "mixing bowl" might put chemical spill/vapor cloud problems more to the forefront. I would in any event lay in a supply of N95 masks; and again; train people on sheltering in place.
    Biological events (like bioterror; or avian flu for example) would benefit from having N95 masks on hand; perhaps a supply of rubber gloves as well. I wrote a report last year on family avian flu/biological event preparations for a preparedness website that I'll forward on to you. Many of the ideas in this report can be used for prepping for disaster in general as well.

  6. This Q&A dealt from an Emergency Management list I belong to has good info:

    QUESTION - I'm putting together an external first aid station for my company. One would be placed at each end of the building. There are 500 total employees.

    The scenario is that the building must be evacuated for any number of reasons. There will be a need to care for casualties prior to first responders arriving on- scene, or perhaps casualties in excess of what the first arriving unit can deal with.

    We need something beyond a first aid kit, closer to a medic station. We are assuming 25 injuries for planning purposes. Climate, getting into winter, is a concern.

    Most likely reason to evacuate the building is a fire or other massive structure issue. We’re assuming primary injuries being burns or cuts. I'm thinking 15 of each type is a decent planning position. What items, by number, would you suggest for each kit per station?

    A follow-on project is the construction/stocking of a shelter in place plan. The scenario being that employees are 'stuck' at the building for 24 hours. This could range from a heavy snow fall to a terrorist attack. Any suggestions on what to stock here would be appreciated as well. I'm trying to come up with a list. So many N95 masks, so many 4 in x 16 in Burn dressing, so many CPR breathing barriers, etc. I realize that everything is variable, I'm just trying to come up with ballpark figures. I wanted to stay away from the pre-built kits and just order the items individually. Thanks for any help.

    ANSWER - Chevron Corp. Major Emergency Supply Cabinet List:

    Chevron installed Emergency Supply Cabinets on every floor of their buildings in the SF Bay Area over 20 years ago. The cabinets are locked by a key that is in a break glass box on the front to discourage casual use however still provide availability in an emergency. If yours will be kept outside, give some thought to the freezing issue.

    Historically, these cabinets are opened for a legitimate emergency about one cabinet per year (they have about 200 of them). Of course many more were opened during the 1989 earthquake! The contents list is laminated and posted on the outside of the cabinet so there is no reason to open the cabinet just to have a look.

    During annual employee emergency preparedness training, participants are taken on a field trip to the cabinet and shown the contents as well. Inside the cabinet is an inventory form that has a place for the user to mark off what supplies were used. Employees are told that there is no penalty for legitimately using the contents, no bill back to the department etc. During security's normal rounds, they check and note if any cabinet appears to have been opened. Of course security should know about any serious emergency that occurs.

    Everything in the cabinet is something that an average person can use easily but is also valuable to emergency responders. Batteries and other items that expire are traded out on a regular schedule every few years before expiration so that they can be donated. There is a glow in the dark strip on the face of the cabinet to facilitate finding it during an emergency. Two of these cabinets are probably enough for your site. Supplies are all available individually.

    For food and water for shelter in place, you could get into food bars and all that, or you could just go with available resources (vending machines, cafeteria if you have one, keep more bottles of water for the water coolers on hand) and tell employees that they should keep snack food in their desk for such purposes.

    Emergency Supply Cabinet Contents:

    Cleaning & Bandaging Wounds-
    Bandaids 100
    Exam Gloves (non-sterile) 100
    EMT Bandage Scissors 2
    Eye pads 12
    Gauze pads 3x3 100
    Telfa Pads 3x4 10
    Surgical pads 5x9 15
    Trauma dressing 1
    sanitary napkins 30
    roller gauze 3" 10
    Dermicil tape, box of 12 rolls
    cotton tip applicators 180
    disposable towelettes 100
    hydrogen peroxide 2 pts.
    povidone-iodine liquid cleanser 2 pts.
    eye wash 2 pts.
    50ml foil pouches of sterile water - 20 (store in bucket in case of leaks - note that this is not water to sustain proper hydration over any period of time. This is a "take a pill or irrigate a wound" quantity.

    Sprains, strains, splinting & swelling-
    cardboard splints (various sizes) 10
    cold packs (kwik cold/instant kold) 20
    elastic bandages (ace bandages) 10
    triangular bandages 10

    Acetaminophen 1200
    Aspirin 1000
    - Note that employees are told that "I have a headache" is not a reason to open the cabinet. If we have an earthquake on the day they have a head ache, bingo! Aspirin could be used for someone with heart attack symptoms as well.

    Search & Rescue, Emergency Repairs
    Adjustable Wrench, 10" 1
    Batteries (D) 24
    Duct Tape 3
    Dust Masks 2
    Lightsticks 20
    Flashlights 12 (2-D battery size)
    Gloves (leather palm) 10 pair
    Hacksaw & extra blades 2
    Hard hats 2
    Plastic sheeting (roll) 1
    Rescue Tool (heavy duty fire fighters pry bar) 1
    Rope, utility, static load, 3/8 nylon, NOT life safety rated 100 ft.
    Safety googles 2 pr.
    Screwdrivers (assorted) 4
    utility knife & blades 1
    Victim tags 50 (plain Manila tags, nothing special)
    Vise grips 1

    Other items-
    Bleach 1 pt. bottle)
    facial tissue (kleenex) 2 boxes
    First aid book 1
    Micro-shield CPR mask 2
    paper cups (small for pill dispensing) 100
    paper towels 2 rolls
    pencils & hand sharpener 5
    radio (am/fm) 1 (plus batteries if needed)
    Red Bio-Hazard bag 4
    safety pins 100
    survival blankets (mylar) 10
    Tweezers 2 pr.

  7. Looks like Chevron is pretty organized. I work for a company not quite as stocked but we make up for it in policy, procedure and training. Each department has a designated person and alternates that are credentialed in at least Basic First Aid, CPR and basic fire suppression. Next to each first aid kit (at least one in each department) is the full list of primary and alt trained personnel in the building. Policy is that if you open a first aid kit then at least one of those people on the list need to be notified to assess and treat if necessary. Almost two years ago we had an employee suffer a cardiac event while in the building and the posted list of CPR trained folks saved her life, three of us responded and took turns performing chest compressions till relieved by Fairfax EMS.

    The CIA, Langley has a similar program but the difference is that they train folks up to EMT level. Their policy was born out of the fact that off-campus EMS response takes at least 30 minutes to make it through security. They needed employees trained to bridge that gap.

    Training is critical to properly using the contents of disaster kits plus developing a phone tree and a hierarchy of designated first aid providers is key to give folks a list of neighbors that can be turned to when in need.

    I recommend Wilderness First Aid training for the improvisational medical training and the more advanced scene assessment, patient assessment and the decision making flow chart that comes with providing or opting not to provide medical care when professional EMS response is not as simple as a phone call away. You will learn the rational behind why CPR is not performed in a mass casualty disaster and why CPR is not preformed in the wilderness unless certain conditions are met.

    Basic Wilderness First Aid classes can be taken at the PATC headquarters in Vienna. Next scheduled class is April 26-27. Cost of the class is tax deductible if you are a member of a volunteer organization, CERT for example. Class info: ( An alternative is to sign up for a class through First Aid Supplies Plus ( Those folks do most of the first aid training for local Boy Scout troops, Ski Patrol and volunteer and professional emergency response groups.

  8. Also keep in mind the liability of the HOA. There are some CERT teams in Florida, for example, that collect personal medical information.

    As a director in my HOA, I know first hand about some of the issues.

    HOAs should not be in the business of having stockpiles of medicine or storing personal records. It opens up the HOA to all sorts of personal liability (not covered by the insurance policies, as the directors are acting outside of their responsibilities).

    That being said, you might assist your residents in registering with a special needs registry, such as the one we have in Fairfax County.

  9. I e-mailed Steve directly. I present Community Disaster Education Programs for the Red Cross. The Red Cross can assist individuals, community organizations (including home owner's associations and houses of worship), and businesses in preparing for disaster.

  10. Check out Tabb Lakes web site (located in York County): .


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