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Safe Living in Sonoma Valley


By Julie Atwood – The Halter Project

Community collaboration

This month, we’re looking at ways to move beyond personal, individual emergency and disaster readiness. If you are personally prepared to keep your family, animals, and home safe, you can help others.

How? There are several ways to be a valuable resource for your neighborhood, and lots of tools, program models, and mentoring resources to help you and your neighbors work together to build a better safety net.

Organizations and programs such as Northern Sonoma County COPE, ROPE, and FireSafe Sonoma offer great toolkits, information, and personal assistance for any group, big or small, that wants to develop some structure. The county’s “Get Ready Sonoma” program offers many helpful resources, as well.

There’s no need to start from scratch — these “wheels” have already been invented and they work beautifully. There’s no “best model”; your program should fit your needs. Simply focus on the priorities for your neighborhood. There are no “requirements”; the idea is to develop a survey to find out what’s most needed.

Next, connect with existing community organizations to get some guidance and materials to help you achieve your goals with a minimum of research time and administrative effort. Here’s a quick checklist of key items to get you started:

• Do you have a communication plan and phone tree?

• Do you have a neighborhood map?

• Do you know who might need help in emergencies?

• Do you know where the animals are?

• Do you know what resources you have (radio operators, first-aid specialists and medical professionals, tools, water, pet supplies, chainsaws, sanitation supplies, etc.)

• Last, but definitely not least: Is everyone able to receive emergency alerts in more than one way?

About CERT and NERT

Some of us are trained as volunteer Disaster Service Workers through FEMA Community/ Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (CERT/NERT) programs. Unlike many counties, Sonoma does not sponsor a county CERT. But if you’d like to take this valuable training and join one of the regional CERTs, we’ve provided links. Being CERT-trained can be a real asset in any emergency.

Connect and share resources

Does your neighborhood, homeowners’ association, or club already have a preparedness committee and plan? Let others know about it! One of the great challenges of life in our beautiful area is that we are so spread out. But one of the surprise blessings of the past year is our newfound ability to connect digitally. It’s never been easier to meet and exchange information. One of The HALTER Project’s goals for spring of 2021 is to help connect with, and create a directory of neighborhood and community disaster preparedness groups in the Northern Sonoma Valley.

Is your group organized?

Got info, templates, guidance to share? Does the fire service know about you and the resources you’ve developed? Help us gather and share this valuable information in a Community Safety Resource Directory by contacting Mark Newhouser, chair of the North Valley Municipal Advisory Council Emergency Preparedness Committee at [email protected] com. If you’d like to host a preparedness workshop, contact [email protected]. If you’d like more information about preparedness for people and animals, visit and subscribe to receive important info, education opportunities, and ways to help others.