Re: New Emergency Preparedness Team Needs Guidance
From: S. Kashdan (
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 22:27:14 -0800 (PST)
Hello Bill,

At Jackson Place Cohousing In urban Seattle, we have an emergency
preparedness team working on emergency preparedness too. Here are some 
things we are working on.

We already have a phone tree, which we developed fourteen years ago, even
before our move-in in 2001. We periodically update it, and it is printed out
and distributed and posted on our internal community web site.

The phone tree consists of three branches, each one headed by a long-time
resident who is a dedicated cohouser. If there is an emergency that needs to 
be dealt with
by the whole community, such as one related to an earthquake or storm,
etc., the person who first learns about it activates the phone tree by
calling the person who is at the beginning of branch 1, and that person
calls the two people who are at the beginning of branches 2 and 3, as well
as the second person in branch 1. Each person is supposed to call and leave
a message down the branch until a live person is reached. The person at the
end of each branch is supposed to call the person at the beginning to
confirm that the message has been passed along. We haven't used this phone
tree for a while, so when we tried it a few months ago, not everyone
followed through to get to the live respondent. So, only one branch was
successfully completed. This means we will need to try it again in a few
weeks, and keep trying until all three branches succeed. We have decided to
practice using it every year and we won't consider that our work on it has
been successful for the year until all branches are successfully completed
during the test try.

In addition to the phone tree, people are committed to visiting each other's
homes to let them know about an emergency if they can't be reached by phone.
If no one is home, a note will be left on the door. We will also use our
internal e-mail list to inform people, and try to text cell phones when 
don't answer them.

These plans are to account for the fact that during some emergencies
landline phones are working when cell phones are not, and cell phones are
working when the internet is down, and the internet is working when cell
phones are not, etc.

We also have fire drills at least once a year during a monthly community
business meeting. And, members of our operations/facilities team have shown
everyone how to turn off the valve to the gas to the common house in the 
case of a gas line break or earthquake or fire in the common house.

We are also talking about possibly storing some extra water and other 
supplies for the use of the whole community in case of emergency.

And, we are encouraging all residents to develop their own home emergency 
kits. The city of Seattle has guidelines for emergency preparedness which we 
also circulated among the group, and probably will again.

We also sent around a questionnaire a while ago, asking what kinds of items 
or skills people might be able to share with the whole community in case of 
emergency: extra canned goods, extra stored water, extra bandages, extra 
bedding, blankets, etc., nursing skills, able and willing to help children 
and elders, etc. We will be sending around another updated questionnaire 
about this in a few months. And, the responses will be compiled and reported 
back to the whole community for reference if there should be an emergency.

We are open to other suggestions, if any one has some.

In community,

Sylvie Kashdan
Community Outreach Liaison
Jackson Place Cohousing
800 Hiawatha Place South
Seattle, WA 98144
info [at]

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