To better educate the residents of Ravenswood Houses in Astoria on emergency tactics, the tenants association on June 5 hosted a fire and safety preparedness event in collaboration with the New York City Housing Authority, the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management on.
“We want to try to bring awareness to teach residents that we can save ourselves,” Ravenswood Tenants Association President Carol Wilkins said. “Most people think that when there’s a fire, the best thing to do is run out of the building, but we want people to stay in their apartments where they’ll be safe.”
A handful of city agencies and public programs set up tables in one of NYCHA’s new command centers. Sturdy, inflatable tents were purchased by the city after Hurricane Sandy hit and will act as a emergency headquarters should another natural disaster or other emergency hit the housing complex again.
In addition to the tents, NYCHA supplied their employees with neon green vests to wear during emergencies.
“We had a lot of people during Sandy who wanted to locate us but could not decipher who was who,” a Ravenswood employee said to his staff before the safety event began. “These vests are bright and have NYCHA on the back so people can look out their windows or look around the grounds and know exactly where we are. Because as you all know, we were here. We were all here working, but we need to make sure residents know we’re here too.”
Due to the pouring rain, attendance was slow to start but East Elmhurst resident Constance Pryce, who brought her 10-year-old granddaughter, Grace, home from school, took time out to see what the city had to offer.
“I got some goodies, so that’s good,” Pryce said, holding her bag of free merchandise and candy that was given out at each table.
While prizes and candy drew people to the tents, NYCHA representatives took the opportunity to encourage residents to fill out emergency forms.
These forms would be used by employees during times of emergency to inform them of residents with specific health needs, such as oxygen or insulin.
“That way, we know what we’re dealing with and we can make sure we tell someone who needs their insulin that we can refrigerate it for them and keep it safe,” Wilkins said.
According to the agency, the emergency prevention event is part of several initiatives by NYCHA to conduct more efficient community outreach.
In previous years, residents often criticized the housing authority for not reaching out to various complexes and not having a presence within areas including Ravenswood and Queensbridge.