September is National Preparedness Month and Cottage Grove is taking a unique approach to getting the message out: competition.
A series of emergency situations this year – including a snowstorm, flooding and fires – has put the community’s state of readiness on the radar. City Manager Richard Meyers sees the trend as an opportunity to proactively motivate citizens and city officials to get prepared.
“I was thinking, ‘How can we get more people to actually do something?’” he said.
By challenging residents to compete in four preparedness tasks identified by the city, Meyers hopes participation will at least spark the concept in the public’s consciousness.
“These preparedness tasks alone don’t get you all the way prepared,” Meyers said. “It’s saying, ‘Here’s a step.’”
Completing each task qualifies a resident or household to enter a drawing in which they may take home preparedness-related prizes.
Drawings are open only to residents within the Cottage Grove city limits and only one drawing per address.
The first task asks households to complete a home inventory. The task involves taking photos and writing descriptions of assets and items of value in the house, an undertaking which may save time, money and stress in the event of a disaster. Residents are also encouraged to review their insurance coverage.
Task two is to install or verify the operation of smoke alarms in each room of a house.
Smoke alarms can cost between $8 and $65 depending on the features, but the American Red Cross offers to provide and install them for free.
“You can’t beat that,” Meyers said of the Red Cross program. “The basic minimum is that you should have them in every room and in the halls. … And they recommend that when they hit 10 years, get a new one.”
The contest’s third task asks families to complete a household communication plan. Meyers stressed that disasters don’t always wait for the whole family to be together when they strike.
“So how do you get back together?” he said. “Of all of them, that may be one of the most important things for people to think about.”
The city’s website provides several communication plan forms to fill out, including plans for kids to carry with them when at school.
Finally, the fourth task requests individuals to become part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or to give blood.
Although a CERT program is not scheduled to begin in Cottage Grove until mid- or late October, applications are currently being accepted by South Lane County Fire and Rescue at southlanefire.org/join-us/cert.
Meanwhile, a blood drive will come to the city on Sept. 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cottage Grove Community Center.
“Hopefully we get a lot of people giving blood because we desperately need blood in the blood banks,” Meyers said.
After accomplishing one of the above tasks, participants can enter the prize drawing from the city’s website.
Prizes include a solar-powered extendable Luci Light, a solar-powered radio/flashlight, a family-sized LifeStraw water purifier and Mountain House Emergency Meal Kits which are good for 30 years and a total of 31 servings per kit.
In addition to a more prepared citizenry, Meyers is also hoping to create a culture of preparedness among city employees by running a similar but separate contest for them.
“The theory behind our city employee program is, our city employees and their families need to be prepared for an emergency because if they’re prepared, then they’re more likely to respond and do the work they’re supposed to do,” Meyers said.
One notable issue during the snowstorm this year was a shortage of county staff due to a lack of home preparedness.
The deadline for entering the contest is Sept. 30, household winners will be drawn Oct. 3 and prizes will be distributed on Oct. 4.
More information about the contest can be found at www.cottagegrove.org/citymanager/page/preparedness-month-contest.