Here are 10 things you can do to prepare for a major emergency:

  1. Make a family plan. Agree on two emergency meeting places for your family: one near your home and one outside of the immediate neighborhood. Decide on an out-of-state contact for everyone in your family to check in with. Give each person an emergency contact card to carry at all times. Also make a plan for any elderly, disabled or handicapped family members.
  2. Make disaster kits for your home, car and office. Include a one-week supply of water in your home kit, allowing a gallon per person per day. Include essentials that you can’t survive without, such as prescription medicines and extra eyeglasses.
  3. Strap down your water heater and secure bookcases and cabinets with L-brackets.
  4. Learn how to shut off your water and gas valves.
  5. Register for the free San Mateo County emergency notification system, which alerts you via cell phone, PDA or computer of emergencies in whichever cities you specify (usually your home and workplace). Go to
  6. Sign up for the City of Burlingame’s free weekly e-newsletter. During an emergency, the city will send out notifications to subscribers.
  7. Make a copy of identify cards and vital documents. Scan them and save them on a thumb drive or on a secure cloud application on your computer or mobile device. Store a copy with your out-of-state contact person or in a safe deposit box.
  8. Program emergency numbers into your cell phone. Add the 10-digit equivalent of Burlingame’s 911 number: (650) 692-0310. Add ICE (in case of emergency) contacts, too, such as: ICE-Husband, (650) 555-5555.
  9. Take some training. Sign up for a free city course on emergency preparedness. (See “News and Events” section.)
  10. Download and print out the Emergency Contacts and Other Helpful Information list from the city’s website. Keep it near your phone.

For more detailed information on steps you can take to get prepared, visit San Mateo County’s Get Ready site.

How to Start a Group

Connecting with your neighbors to discuss emergency preparedness and crime prevention pays extra dividends in the friendships you make and the community spirit that builds. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.

Sign up for the Burlingame Neighborhood Network’s free e-newsletter, to keep informed about events and opportunities. Click on “Subscribe” above.
Invite neighbors to a meeting to talk about forming a Neighborhood Network. You can drop a flyer on people’s doorsteps, phone them or email them. It’s a good idea to remind people two to three days before the meeting. If you would like someone from the Network to help get started and explain the program at your first meeting, email At the meeting:

  1. Ask people to sign in and give their contact information.
  2. Pass out flyers about forming a Network and introduce the concept.
  3. Select two or more block captains.

Discuss possible projects and activities for the group. Choices include:

  1. A neighborhood directory for neighbors to share (and a private directory with additional info that’s useful during emergencies)
  2. Distributing information about emergency preparedness, free training opportunities and ways to get connected with the city
  3. A neighborhood e-newsletter
  4. A city presentation on emergency preparedness or Neighborhood Watch
  5. A social event such as a block party, a holiday potluck, an ice cream social or a coffee to discuss election issues.
  • After the meeting, send out a recap of what was decided.
  • Pick one project at a time to work on and meet with other block captains as needed.
  • Designate at least one block captain to meet with other block captains at citywide Neighborhood Network meetings to share ideas and receive updated information.
  • Identify neighbors with CERT training and those who are licensed to operate ham radios.

For more detailed information on steps you can take to get prepared, visit the Burlingame Neighborhood Network site and San Mateo County’s Get Ready site.