The first thing to do is to figure out what size area your disaster plan can cover. What is a manageable size for you and your team to effectively handle? We recommend 25 to 40 households as an ideal size, but we also encourage you to work with existing organizations and groups. For example, is there already an active neighborhood watch program in place in your area, a homeowners association? This could be a simple way to define the designated area for your disaster plan.
Once you have defined an area for your disaster plan, it's helpful to sketch it out on a map of your neighborhood. Now you have a visual aid to see exactly which households, businesses and other buildings are part of it your area. Also, jot down on the map any other information and details you think you'll need for future reference.
Next, it's time to go out and canvass the people that will be a part of your disaster plan. This can be a wonderful opportunity to meet your neighbors face-to-face and discover the vibrant community that lives right next door.
As you connect with your friends and neighbors who are within the designated area for your disaster plan, take note of a few things:
What languages are spoken?
Will it be easy to communicate with all participants in the event of an emergency?
Are there people who will need extra assistance, and will your small team be able to provide it, in a "neighbor helping neighbor" way?
Are there any issues or special circumstances that stand out in your survey which will be helpful to know during a disaster?
With all these considerations in mind take a fresh look at your defined area. If it is larger than 40 households or there are neighborhood specific challenges that will require more attention, it's probably useful to divide it into smaller areas and assign a "block captain" for each.