When Rev. Chester Williams’ children were growing up, he always told them to wait for him at nearby Awbury Arboretum in case of an emergency.
That safety plan came in handy when phone lines got jammed up after the 9/11 attacks.
“I was so happy. I just couldn’t get to them fast enough,” said Williams. “I was just praying that they remembered it and thank God that it worked out, that I had a place to meet them.”
To help others prepare for emergencies, the Chew and Belfield Neighborhood Inc., which Williams founded, will host “Ready or Not: A Personal and Family Preparedness Workshop.”
The event, which takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library (68 W. Chelten Ave.), is co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.
Police and Department of Homeland Security officials will also go to the workshop to help attendees identify suspicious activities and learn how to report them.
Attendees will learn about precautions they can take to protect their families during 10 emergency situations including fires, floods and tropical and winter storms.
OEM spokeswoman Joan Przybylowicz said families should put together a family emergency plan, review evacuation plans and routes and prepare for shelter with emergency kits containing non-perishable items, water, flashlights and important contact information.
She also stressed the importance of teaching senior citizens how to text in case that is the only phone feature available during an emergency.
“We really suggest that you have a plan and think about staying with family and friends if you can,” she said. “If that’s not an option, you really need to pay attention” and have alternate plans.
Williams said he hopes the workshop will show families how important it is to talk to each other about safety in their homes and neighborhoods.
“I want people to be aware of what’s going on and have a plan so they won’t be in the dark and panicking,” said Williams.
More information is available on OEM’s website.