Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods program?
A:  Schools Aid Families in Emergencies or S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods is a disaster preparedness initiative that is centered on the principle of “neighbors helping neighbors”. In the event of a catastrophic or valley wide disaster, “grab your kit, and walk to school”. This means each person should grab their 96-hour kit whether at home, in a car, or at the office and walk to the any (likely the closest to you) elementary school to receive information, help with basic human needs, short-term shelter, and help families find one another. Residents are not encouraged to gather at the schools during less severe events unless advised to do so by local authorities.

 Q:  Why is S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods important?
A:  Access to local government and other resources will be extremely limited after a catastrophic event. For example, emergency crews will be directed to the most severely damaged areas with the highest number of injuries. Other crews will be working to restore transportation routes and basic utilities. Individual and neighborhood groups should plan to be self-sustaining for four days (96 hours) before help arrives.

 Q:  How does this program tie in to my church, CERT, or other local emergency plan for my neighborhood?
A:  The S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods program is meant to complement and support existing neighborhood emergency plans. The elementary school is the first place emergency managers will attempt to access and communicate with. If your church or other neighborhood organization has a different meeting place, feel free to use that space; make sure someone communicates with the local elementary school so you receive the most current information.

 Q: How does S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods work with local business?

A: The S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods program can be taught in a brown bag lunch forum to encourage personal preparedness. S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods does not coordinate directly with local businesses. Contact your local emergency management officials to learn how to develop a company response plan to protect your employees, customers, and assets.

 Q:  How will I be reunited with my family?
A:  Local government officials have coordinated with transit organizations along the Wasatch Front to create priority transportation routes to help people get home after a disaster. Schools are included within the plan, so if someone works in Salt Lake City but lives in West Jordan, they will take an emergency public transit system that will drop them off at their local elementary school. The elementary school evacuation hub will also have Red Cross Safe and Well capability. This is a free Red Cross tool that facilitates communication from disaster-affected areas to the outside. Safe and Well helps people inform loved ones of their well-being and be reunited with one another.

 Q:  What will happen at the elementary school?
A:  The school will act as a hub for the neighborhood, but what will actually take place will vary by area. Some neighborhoods may have to use the school as a temporary shelter (without cots or traditional shelter supplies) if their homes are not habitable, while others will use the school as a reception area for household reunification, information gathering, and service coordination. Within every elementary school there is a Just-In-Time kit that has basic organization materials and leadership job sheets for the residents to use while managing their own hub.

Q:  What can I do now to prepare?
A:  There are many ways to prepare today. First, create a 96-hour kit for each member of your family (including pets). Keep it in a place that is readily accessible, like a coat closet. Next, consider taking emergency classes with the American Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Amateur Radio, or other Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). These organizations provide opportunities to learn how to manage and operate a Red Cross shelter, first aid, fire suppression, search and rescue, communication and other emergency response skills. Finally, consider reinforcing masonry homes. Unreinforced masonry buildings are common through Utah, and are the most vulnerable types of building to earthquake tremors.