BPWA Annual Meeting November 16 to Focus on Emergency Planning

With the tragic Wine Country fires fresh in our minds, along with lingering images of devastation from the earthquake in Mexico and recent hurricanes, the focus of our Annual Meeting could not be more timely!

On Thursday, November 16, at 7p.m. at The Hillside Club, our keynote speakers will be Khin Chin, of Berkeley’s Office of Emergency Services, and Acting Fire Chief David Brannigan. They will present simple, specific steps that you can take to prepare your household for disasters, both those that call for immediate evacuation, like a fire, and those that could require sheltering in place, like an earthquake.

Among the topics the speakers will cover are: how to put together a “go bag;” what survival supplies to keep in your car; and communications strategies in crisis situations, including mobile apps.

And, of course, they will stress how vital Berkeley’s paths would be in a disaster. In many cases, they may be the only way residents can escape and first responders can reach emergencies.

In a true disaster, we know there will not be enough resources or emergency personnel to cover the entire city. Chin will briefly review Berkeley’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program, which offers classes and supplies to enable neighborhood groups to fight small fires; search for survivors; administer first aid; and survive for a few days until services are restored.

Brannigan will offer tips on how to make your home and surrounding vegetation as fire-resistant as possible and to plan a safe evacuation route.

In addition, Pam Grossman, a board member and trainer for the Berkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood Network (BDPNN), will talk briefly about her organization and the free classes she offers.

Informational handouts will be available, and we will raffle off a survival kit. We also will provide samples of nonperishable foods that can be stocked for emergencies.

You’ll have a chance to get pick up some holiday gifts at our pop-up store, including Berkeley Path Wanderers maps, note cards, posters, and books. We’ll also be selling our new tee shirts for children and adults.

Those of us living in the Bay Area know that it’s not a question of whether disaster will strike, but when. Preparation is key to making the best of a terrible situation. BPWA is dedicating our 2017 Annual Meeting to help residents to get ready now — while we still have time.