Getting Started

COPE 101: 7 Steps

The following seven steps are guidelines to assist individuals in setting up and maintaining a COPE program in their community:

  1. Define the Scope of Your Neighborhood. Include ten to twenty homes or segment into manageable groups.  Combine homes in maintained and non-maintained areas, if appropriate. Here is an example map of a community divided into COPE neighborhoods.
  2. Build Your Neighborhood Leadership Team. Enlist one Leader and recruit two to three people as Co-Leaders.  They should be committed to the COPE program and capable of responding after an emergency to rapidly changing situations.
  3. Take a Survey of the Residents in Your Neighborhood. Using a Survey Form (edited to meet your needs), document resident names, contact information, special skills, special needs, physical limitations, health problems, and equipment that could be useful such as generators and chainsaws. Be prepared to help neighbors who need assistance. Here is a link to the Google Form of the survey. You will need to copy this form to your own Google account then you can edit as you see fit.
  4. Record Information about Each Home. Record location of gas, water, and electric shutoffs.  Understand manual operation of garage door.  Note specific fire dangers, such as wooden shingle roofs and location of flammable vegetation.  Note availability of special tools for use in emergencies. To record your important community info here is a COPE Census SPREADSHEET .
  5. Identify Meeting Site and Escape Routes. Choose a central meeting site to congregate when emergency occurs.  Define alternative escape routes for evacuation based on specific situations.  Designate a meeting site near home and an alternative safe site outside the neighborhood if the neighborhood is inaccessible or evacuated.
  6. Schedule and Conduct Meetings with Residents. Introduce COPE Neighborhood Team Leader and Co-Leaders.  Review results of COPE Team Survey Form.  Discuss central meeting site and escape routes, team actions in the event of an emergency, and communications and transportation to medical control and evaluation centers.  Distribute copies from this guide to each residence. Here is a COPE Disaster Preparedness Calendar for 2021 with a list of topics and links to educational materials.
  7. Maintain Your Plans and Kits with Ongoing Effort. Every time you change your clocks (every six months), conduct a COPE Neighborhood Team meeting and review and update all COPE material.  Update COPE Team Survey Form for new residents in your neighborhood or changes to needs and capabilities of residents.  Review planned meeting site and escape routes.  Inform residents of any changes.

COPE Documents and Help

For more details about setting up a program be sure and see the COPE 101 Handbook pdf. Notice that it is available in Word so that you can start using the forms attached right away and make any changes to the document you wish. Make it your own! Here is a lot of information about community preparedness in one document.

COPE Office Hours occur monthly on the third Tuesday 3:30 PM except in December. If you are just getting started or if you have been at it for a while but have questions, this is for you! A couple of COPE leaders and usually a fire official are there to answer your questions. You can register for Office Hours via Zoom here.  Margie Hanselman is interested in helping people get started and can be reached at:

COPE 101 for Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce. Here is a link to the 9/25/2020 recording. Here is a pdf of the COPE 101 5-2020 presentation.

COPE NoSoCo Leadership Email Archive

COPE Protocols

As a COPE Leadership group, we have strive to share resources and information. We offer the documents in Word so you can edit for your needs. For instance, if a community wants to put out red flags during Red Flag Warnings, how should we do this in a consistent way and one that our community understands? Here is the Red Flag Protocol we came up with including info on how to order materials. Here is an Air Horn Protocol for you to adopt if you wish in your community.

When you start developing your own protocols here is the Protocol Template.

Here is an information sheet on a Community Fire Fuel Reduction Chipper Event Guide.

Do you want to start a Reflective Sign program? Information about Ordinance 13A and how to order supplies is included.

We use GroupMe for emergency communication in some of our communities. This is the GroupMe Text Etiquette info sheet. Here is a link to a video on how to set up GroupMe as well as a GroupMe tutorial.

Here is a map of COPE Communities in Northern Sonoma County.