Residents Trained How to Map Neighborhoods in the Face of an Emergency


The South Pasadena Public Safety Commission and its Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) volunteers hosted the 2nd annual city-wide Map Your Neighborhood training last week in the South Pasadena Library Community Room.

The training focused on preparing residents for disasters and emergencies, the perfect bridge between the successful free Neighborhood Watch program and CERT.

Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Commission Luis Reinoso said the program teaches 9 steps of disaster preparedness. “We want all of our residents to be personally prepared, and understand the needs of their neighborhood.” Reinoso said. “People are more successful in dealing with disasters when they know their neighbors, plan, and work as a team to provide medical attention to the injured.”

Attendees were also guided on how to facilitate a meeting in their neighborhood.

South Pasadena Public Safety Chair Ellen Daigle, and Commissioner Grace Kung attended the training. Former Public Safety Commission Chair Janet Braun presented a portion of the Map Your Neighborhood training.

In addition, Public Safety Commissioner Greg Hall presented Neighborhood Watch information and asked for new volunteers to become block captains. South Pasadena Fire Department Captain Kris Saxon, Sue Kaplan and Braun were congratulated for making the CERT program a success over the past four years in the city.

Hall is leading the Public Safety Commission efforts to grow the Neighborhood Watch program, while working closely with Detective Richard Lee of the South Pasadena Police Department.

To schedule a Neighborhood meeting, contact Lee at and let him know that you would like a Map Your Neighborhood volunteer to present information about disaster preparedness, in addition to a Police presentation of crime safety tips to your Neighborhood, HOA, or COA.

To date, Map Your Neighborhood training has been held throughout the city, including Alta Vista Avenue, Oak Crest Avenue, Flores de Oro, Milan Avenue, Orange Grove Avenue, Meridian/Rollin, and Stratford Avenue..

Luis Reinoso, vice-chair of the South Pasadena Public Safety Commission, is not only a Neighborhood Watch block captain, but also trained in the Map Your Neighborhood program, CERT, and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications. Luis recently taught the Map Your Neighborhood training to his block. “Luis is truly dedicated to increasing the safety and disaster preparedness of our residents,” said Daigle.

Below is a brief description of the nine steps to follow immediately following a disaster:

  1. Take care of yourself and your loved ones first.
  2. Dress for safety with sturdy shoes, bicycle helmet or hard hat, and leather gloves.
  3. Check the natural gas or propane at your home. Only shut off the gas or propane if you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, or the dial at the meter is turning faster than usual.
  4. Shut off water at the house main (not at the street main), to keep potentially contaminated water from entering your home.
  5. Place the “Help” or “Ok” sign on your front door or window. Posting the sign helps your neighbors to locate those who need help first.
  6. Place your fire extinguisher(s) on the sidewalk or where neighbors can see it. This way, a small fire can be quickly extinguished.
  7. Go to your previously selected neighborhood gathering place to check in, and help as needed.
  8. Form teams at gathering site: team 1 to listen to news and keep others informed. Team 2 will check on neighbors who are elderly, those disabled, or homes where children may be alone. Team 3 will check all natural gas meters and propane tanks, and shut off if necessary. Team 4 will check all homes for “Help” signs, or with no sign showing.
  9. After each team has completed its work, go back to the gathering site to update others. The neighborhood leader will then report the neighborhood status to a CERT team leader, or other available emergency responder.

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