Published: June 11, 2021

Emergency Preparedness

Does emergency preparedness seem vague and overwhelming? Just like everything else, you can do a lot if you break it down into baby steps.

Since 2017, our Union has operated a Wildfire Assistance Fund to help members who are impacted by fire season. It was a small program that, fortunately, only impacted a few people. That all changed in 2020. When last year’s wildfires hit communities across the state the need was unlike anything we’ve seen.

Requests for assistance flooded in. To date more than 400 SEIU 503 members have asked for help and received a check from this fund, totalling more than $58,000. These funds have been provided by donations from more than 120 individuals, as well as dues money donated to the fund by our Board of Directors and sublocal leadership. 

When times are tough, our Union pulls together. However, it’s important to be prepared.

Oregon Emergency Management is now cautioning people that 3 weeks of being without main services may be what we are in store for. As caregivers, we not only have to be able to function in our own homes, but we also may have a role in preparing our consumers. It would be great to see emergency plans in place for every ISP,  at the very least communication and notification of local Community Emergency Response teams that a vulnerable person may need help in an emergency.

One way to start your steps to being more prepared is to create on your calendar small tasks that don’t take a lot of time- for instance:

Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) get one gallon every payday ready until you have achieved what you need.

Easy task 2: set aside some cash in your new kit so that if ATMs are down you have some money on hand.

Another easy task is to develop the habit to fill up your gas tank when it reaches half empty. Always being at least a half full tank assures that you have gas for evacuation rather than having to wait in line when a crisis hits.

A ‘kit’ is a really helpful way to organize your items for preparedness. Not sure what to put in it? The Red Cross has put it all together for us, and you can adjust as needed:

Being prepared is not a ‘once and done’ task, but rather building yourself a framework so that when something happens, you know you have what you need to meet the challenges.