Safe Neighborhoods

The Schools Aid Families in Emergencies (S.A.F.E.) Neighborhood program provides training and information to help you and your neighborhood recover from major disasters.

Schools Aid Families in Emergencies—S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods Mission Statement

S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods trains individuals in each elementary school neighborhood to open, staff, and operate their own neighborhood evacuation hub at the school until outside help arrives after a catastrophic disaster.  S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods:

  • Teaches individuals to create a 96-hour kit, “grab your kit, walk to school” in the event of a catastrophic disaster.
  • Assists and relies upon “neighbors helping neighbors” to assess critical and immediate emergency needs, keep residents informed, and reunify families.
  • Assess neighborhood emergency needs.
  • Establish a predictable reception area for displaced persons.
  • Facilitate household reunification.
  • Coordinate efforts to meet basic human needs.
  • Assist coordination of medical needs, transportation, communication and public information.
  • Coordinate with citizen response plans in partnership with NGOs, school districts, and government entities.

Utilize Red Cross and neighbors to support S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods in the following ways:

  • Incorporate the “whole community” philosophy to educate the public to “grab your kit and walk to school.”
  • Teach individuals and families to create 96-hour kits and a household emergency plan.
  • Orient neighborhood citizens to S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods and recruit community residents to prepare so they can implement S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods components.
  • Encourage advanced training with the American Red Cross or other community organization. Red Cross volunteers will be advised to support their own personal community school during a catastrophic disaster.
  • Facilitate partnerships with local community groups to foster continued coordination and leadership.
  • Provide guidelines for developing a “Just in Time” (JIT) kit in each school equipped with tools for organizing and running a neighborhood evacuation hub .


Catastrophic Disaster

“…any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions.”

US Department of Homeland Security National Response Framework. Chapter 2: Response Actions, 42. Available at

Right now, the Salt Lake segment of the Wasatch Fault has enough tension to rupture at any time. The earthquake is expected to be a 7.0 magnitude or higher and will displace an estimated one third of the population of Salt Lake County or 350,000 people. Many roads will become impassable, and for much of the valley, emergency services will be delayed for 96 hours or more. Getting individuals home following a catastrophic disaster will prove to be difficult, with commuters stretching from Utah to Weber counties.

S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods activates during a catastrophic disaster, when transportation, communications, and other basic services will be disrupted. Residents are not encouraged to gather at the schools during a less severe disaster unless advised to do so by local authorities. Regardless of the scope of the disaster, individuals and families are always encouraged to have a 96-hour kit and emergency plan ready.

S.A.F.E. utilizes the elementary schools as a reunification hub and they are NOT:

  • A fully functional shelter with cots, blankets, etc.
  • Completely managed initially by the American Red Cross.
  • A guaranteed site for immediate medical attention.
  • A location where food and water will be provided.

S.A.F.E. uses the hub model of “neighbors helping neighbors.” In such a hub, emergency services for displaced persons can be organized efficiently.  However, a neighborhood hub will have very limited supplies and trained staff based on the catastrophic nature of the disaster. Each neighborhood evacuation hub should not expect direct services for at least 96 hours.


The SAFE Neighborhoods Plan has designated a local school to become your neighborhood hub.

What Do I Do Before and After an Earthquake?

Plan and prepare. Click here for an earthquake preparedness checklist.

Take this fun quiz to see how prepared you are.