What is community shielding?

    Community shielding is a cooperative effort between individuals, families, local government, business, non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups and any other community resources to provide or augment food, water, medication and other essential supplies to individuals sheltering in place in homes and other safe locations due to a natural, biological, chemical or radiological disaster. State and federal resources could be called upon when local resources are exhausted. Because it is a local effort, each plan should be tailored specifically to the community it serves.

What are the advantages of community shielding?

• Community shielding encourages Americans to do something now – to be proactive and prepare now instead of being reactive under emergency conditions.
• Community shielding promotes self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
• Community shielding encourages community specific emergency planning.
• Community shielding allows individuals to remain in their homes and communities instead of evacuating unnecessarily during a disaster.
• Community shielding is voluntary or self-imposed instead of forced.
• Community shielding is a “least restrictive” method of public health intervention compared to other methods i.e. forced quarantine or isolation.
• Community shielding can be implemented more quickly and easily and at an earlier stage than more restrictive measures and can, thus, reduce the need or scale of more restrictive measures.
• Community shielding provides a more psychologically and emotionally stable environment during a time of crisis which encourages a more positive response to crisis and better decision making.
• Community shielding avoids unnecessary evacuations which have their own inherent risks.
• In a biological disaster, community shielding helps break the disease cycle with minimal disruption to the routine activities of the nation.
• In a terrorist-caused disaster, community shielding helps citizens to defeat the objective of terrorists to disrupt and destroy the American way of life.
• Community shielding empowers citizens to stand and “fight” the situation instead of fleeing it.
• Community shielding encourages unity in the face of disaster. It empowers, gives hope and encourages resilience.
• Community shielding minimizes injury, death and damages while optimizing a successful recovery from disaster.
• Community shielding promotes successful survival in a disaster situation.

How does community shielding apply to me?

    Because community shielding is a cooperative effort, emergency plans incorporating community shielding will be more effective when citizens help formulate the plan. Be willing to get involved in making plans and encouraging community shielding in your community. Take an active part in preparing your family for community shielding. Fewer resources will be required for the community as a whole when each individual and family is more prepared to care for themselves.

What can I do now?

    Prepare now to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Stock food, water, medications and other supplies to last at least one month (The length of time for sheltering in place will depend upon the cause and scope of the disaster as will indoor/outdoor restrictions.). Schools and businesses may close so prepare to work from home and have learning activities available for children. Have savings to cover a possible time of temporary unemployment. Have alternate methods for cooking, heat, light and communications in case of power outages. Learn how to respond to different kinds of emergencies – natural disasters, natural epidemics or pandemics and man-made biological, chemical and radiological disasters.
    Be familiar with the advantages of community shielding and share the information with family, friends and neighbors while encouraging them to prepare also.
    Determine now to listen for instructions during an emergency, to trust community leaders, and to follow their informed direction. Learn your 9-digit zip code for emergency notification purposes.
    Encourage a community shielding plan in your neighborhood and/or community and help to set up the plan.
    Become part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT trained individuals act as first responders or assist first responders during emergency and disaster situations. CERT teams can also help educate the public about personal preparedness and disaster response and recovery and assist in community shielding operations.

For additional information:

University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group (CIAG) “Community Shielding”

Citizen Corps CERT programs