San Antonio Office of Emergency Management
Preparing Your Community


Individuals can make a difference in their own community but not everyone has bought into preparedness.  Research on personal preparedness indicates that individuals who believe they are prepared for disasters often are not as prepared as they think.  In addition, some admit they do not plan to prepare at all.

The challenge: Maximizing awareness and encouraging participation in disaster preparedness activities to affect change at the community level.

Our nation’s emergency managers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMT/paramedics, and other emergency responders do an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they cannot do it alone. We must all embrace our personal responsibility to be prepared – in doing so; we contribute to the safety and security of our communities as well.

There are organizations in your community that host community-planning meetings, provide preparedness information and volunteer opportunities to community members and when in need, are available to respond to a disaster.  Organizations like Citizen Corps provide this support in communities nationwide.

The Citizen Corps effort is coordinated at the local level by Citizen Corps Councils or similar coordinating bodies, which bring together community leaders to plan for emergencies before they happen. The local leaders who serve on the Citizen Corps Councils should reflect all sectors of the whole community to ensure every stakeholder has a seat at the table. Citizen Corps Council members participate in developing community emergency plans, conduct localized outreach and education to the public, offer training and participation in exercises, encourage volunteerism, and in the event of a disaster, form an integral part of the response.

To find a local Citizen Corps Council near you:.

For more information, visit: Citizen Corps.

If there’s not a Council near you, here’s how you can affect change in your community.


Help prepare your neighborhood by starting an emergency preparedness project that is designed to identify local hazards and work together to solve problems.

While no two projects will be the same, successful projects will share a few common practices.

  • Identify local resources
  • Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort
  • Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals
  • Serve your community
  • Record, share and celebrate your successes together

For detailed information on starting a community preparedness project, review the Community Preparedness Toolkit on


  • Learn about the hazards most likely to affect your community and their appropriate responses.
  • Learn about local emergency response plans, drills, and exercises.
  • Find out what your community is doing to prepare.
  • Subscribe online to the free Citizen Corps news email service.


Check out the organizations already doing good work.  Many existing service groups have identified community needs and have built the expertise to provide solutions and there may already be an active volunteer group that you could join.  A few phone calls or scanning a few websites can identify local groups and volunteer opportunities. 


Your service matters and should be celebrated. Remember to go to and tell us your story of service.

Also, be sure to keep track of what worked for you during the planning and implementation of your project and what could be improved. You can learn from this service project when you organize your next service project!


House meetings are a valuable tactic for recruiting volunteers and building a team. House meetings allow community members to share their concerns and join together to work for progress. Within the room, you already have all the tools you need to enact change on a local level. Every attendee can contribute time or resources or leadership abilities.

Your house meeting will help you identify your leadership team. The people that are committed enough to come to your house meeting should be considered potential leaders of the initiatives being implemented in their communities. 

As a house meeting host, invite people from your social network to participate in a discussion about your community, pressing needs and potential solutions. House meetings often engage people new to service and unclear about next steps. Serving with the support of a team will increase the ease and comfort of many new volunteers.

Building community through house meetings is a critical step toward improving lives of everyday Americans and strengthening communities at the grassroots level.