Step 9. Meet your neighbours
Most people are rescued by those who are there at the time. Your neighbours are your first source of support and its important to get to know them now rather than later.
In an emergency, knowing a few people on your street will help to:
- Make sure everyone is looked after, especially those who might need extra help.
- Share resources and skills to help each other– three families cooking on one BBQ uses a lot less gas than three families cooking by themselves.
- Support each other through difficult times.
Even better, you’ll be helping build a friendlier, more resilient community every day of the year.
You can be more prepared for an emergency by simply getting to know your neighbours.
Get together with your neighbours
- Start by saying hello and introducing yourself - the first step is always the hardest!
- Organise a catch-up, BBQ or working bee with a few of your neighbours is a great way to get to know them better.
- You could get involved in Neighbours Day Aotearoa, start or join a Neighbourhood Support group on your street or join the local Timebank.
Once you know your neighbours a bit better, here are a few things you could discuss before an emergency:
- Suggest swapping contact details in case of an emergency (or if you need someone to quickly check if you locked the back door!).
- If you live in a tsunami evacuation zone, you could discuss your plan and routes for evacuating quickly.
- Opportunities to share resources, such as sharing a BBQ to make your gas supply last longer in a power outage.
- Is there a shared space where you could store emergency water?
- Do you commute to work? After an emergency, you may need to walk home - for some people this could be a long way. You could suggest having a meeting point for people who live in your area to gather so you can walk home together.
- WREMO hosts household and community earthquake planning sessions across the Wellington Region.
- Welcome new neighbours – introduce yourself on moving day, take over scones/ meal or invite them over for a cup of coffee.
- Offer support at times of extra need such as a new baby, a recent death or home renovations. Support could be bringing over a meal, watching kids for an hour, hanging out the washing or meeting for a cup of tea.
- Organise a street BBQ or a working bee with a few of your neighbours.
- Arrange a progressive street meal – start off with lunch at one house, move to the next for afternoon tea, the next for dinner and the last for dessert. Share the load!
- Get involved in Neighbours Day Aotearoa.
- Our friends from the Neighborhood Empowerment Network in San Francisco have some great ideas for how to organise an event
- Start a Neighbourhood Support group. See the Neighbourhood Support website for more information.
- Use this step-by-step party planning guide (wellington.govt.nz)
Why are your neighbours so important in an emergency?
Research shows that communities that recovery best from natural hazards are those that have good social networks. One of the leading researchers in this field is Daniel P. Aldrich explains the importance of social networks in this article:
In disaster recovery, social networks matter more than bottled water and batteries (www.citylab.com)
Your house is already full of emergency items disguised as everyday things!
The blankets on your bed, the clothes in your closet, and things in the bathroom are all things you can use in emergencies.
Ideally, you can be self-sufficient for seven days. However, don't forget that neighbours can help each other out by sharing resources, such as gas for a camping stove.
Attend a free one-hour session to get tips on how you, your household and whānau can stay safe and get through.
The session covers:
- What could happen your area in an earthquake
- How to stay safe
- Key points for your emergency plan
- Essential emergency supplies
- How neighbours can help each other