Prepare Your Neighborhood (PYN) is a grassroots effort to build and strengthen disaster readiness among neighbors. Disasters can create many emergencies at the same time, and professional responders are typically overwhelmed. Residents must often rely on themselves and on neighbors for assistance.

PYN consists of neighborhoods led by captains who collect information regarding the tools, resources, skills and special needs from each neighbor so that their neighborhoods are ready to respond to problems and help the most vulnerable when disaster strikes.

Prepare Your Neighborhood captains train their neighbors in the steps to take immediately following a disaster, beginning at home and then reaching throughout the neighborhood.

Immediately after a disaster, residents:

  • Ensure the safety of their own families and homes.
  • Put on protective clothing.
  • Check for natural gas leaks and shut off water and electricity to the house if needed.
  • Tape a placard onto their front door or window signaling their status (“OK” or “HELP”).

Those that are able then go to the designated neighborhood gathering site, where they use the skills and equipment information prepared earlier to assemble four teams:

  • Team 1 remains at the site to monitor local radio broadcasts for emergency news.
  • Team 2 checks the contact list for neighbors who may need extra assistance and transports them to the care center if appropriate.
  • Team 3 checks neighborhood propane tanks and shuts them off when needed.
  • Team 4 walks door to door to check on homes displaying the “Help” placard (or no placard), and then homes with OK signs, to be sure the occupants are all right.

As the teams complete their assignments, they report back to the gathering site and make further plans as required, contacting their next in chain of communication with reports.

Prepare Your Neighborhood makes it easy for groups of neighbors to work together to prepare for disasters. It takes just one person to begin the process by hosting a 90-minute preparedness meeting for their neighborhood. There, neighbors will:

  • Learn the nine steps to take immediately following a disaster.
  • Create a neighborhood map that pinpoints the location of all propane tanks.
  • Compile a contact list, including the names of individuals who may need extra help, such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, or children who are home alone during certain times of the day. Local residents’ out-of-area emergency contacts are also requested.
  • Choose locations for a Neighborhood Gathering Site and Care Center.
  • Identify the skills and equipment each neighbor could contribute to help during a disaster.

Become a Captain

Each neighborhood needs a captain to spearhead the PYN effort. Tasks include:

  • Participate in initial Prepare Your Neighborhood training.
  • Delineate your neighbors on a map and in a database.
  • Contact all property owners and full-time renters and introduce the MYN concept.
  • Organize a neighborhood get-together to discuss emergency preparation and show the MYN DVD.
  • Ask for voluntary sign-up of contact information, skills, resources and special needs.
  • Choose a Gathering Site and a Care Center in the neighborhood.
  • Establish a telephone tree and email list for out-of-the-area owners.
  • Continue to communicate with neighbors regarding emergency information and available training.
  • Encourage preparation of 72-hour and shelter-in place kits.
  • Conduct a neighborhood practice of nine steps to take immediately following a disaster.
  • Hold a practice evacuation to your assembly site.
  • Plan an annual get-together to re-acquaint neighbors, update information and train new residents.
  • Plan for continuation of program by training your replacement.
  • Attend ongoing training and community meetings two or three times a year.

Optional activities for neighborhood captains include:

  • Create a neighborhood newsletter and/or directory.
  • Obtain a ham radio license.
  • Receive first aid, CPR, and/or CERT training.

PYN training enables neighbors to:

  • Become personally prepared with shelter-in-place and 72-hour kits.
  • Learn when to use the nine steps.
  • Recognize the correct response for each type of disaster.
  • Communicate between neighborhoods and with officials before, during and after a crisis.
  • Learn new procedures.
  • Recognize and measure successes.

To learn of upcoming training opportunities, please visit our EVCNB calendar.

For more information or to get involved, contact Paula Peek at or 503-368-4866 or Sue Remy at or 503-368-6305.

Watch the Map Your Neighborhood video on YouTube.

Learn more at Washington Military Department Emergency Management Division.