About BNN

The Burlingame Neighborhood Network program encourages citizens to work cooperatively in neighborhood teams to prepare for disasters. In the process of getting better acquainted, neighbors are inspired to plan other events such as block parties and holiday get-togethers. Their sense of community fosters a “Neighborhood Watch” awareness that helps prevent crime.

Why Neighbors Matter

Neighbors hold a meeting on Edgehill Drive in Burlingame
It's not a question of if but when a major earthquake occurs in our city. Experts tell us we're overdue for a quake on the San Andreas Fault. The U.S. Geological Survey says that when it hits, damage in Burlingame is expected to be violent to extreme.

When the Big One happens, emergency responders warn that we’ll be on our own for three to seven days. A pandemic could require people to be isolated and self-sufficient for several weeks.

Recent studies of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and catastrophes in India and Japan have found that personal connections among neighbors dramatically improve chances of survival during a disaster and recovery in its aftermath. One of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get to know your neighbors.

That’s why the Burlingame Neighborhood Network (BNN) suggests getting together socially with neighbors in your area and holding a meeting at least twice per year with your block captains to discuss how you can help one another during a disaster. Many Neighborhood Network groups create neighborhood directories and newsletters to facilitate communication. Some gather details on skills and supplies that neighbors have that can be useful during a disaster, as well as special needs, such as residents with limited mobility or pets that may be left alone during the day.

What BNN Does

BNN offers free speakers who help Neighborhood Networks assemble emergency kits, create a family evacuation plan and learn where to take free and low-cost emergency training courses. Thanks to a grant from the Shinnyo-en Foundation, BNN offers free colorful flyers to groups that they can distribute in neighborhoods regarding topics such as how to turn off your utilities, what precautions to take to protect small children and how to ensure that you have a safe water supply during a disaster.

BNN hosts general meetings for block captains and others who are interested in starting a group. These meetings often feature a speaker, an emergency preparedness drill or teach participants an important skill.

BNN works closely with the Burlingame’s disaster preparedness and crime prevention personnel to coordinate activities. It encourages residents to sign up for free emergency alerts and city newsletters. The organization is also collaborating with counterparts in Palo Alto on a regional template for emergency preparedness at the neighborhood level that is funded under a grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.


The first Neighborhood Network group was established in 2006 in the Poppy Drive area of Burlingame. After an initial meeting, the group selected block captains to figure out how to prepare the neighborhood for potential disasters.

Neighborhood gathering
The Poppy Drive Neighborhood Network has helped neighbors become better prepared for emergencies. Many have updated their emergency kits and agreed upon family meeting places during disasters. Neighbors assist other neighbors who need help from time to time, such as elderly residents living alone.

In addition, residents have become more aware of who belongs in their neighborhood. They started a neighborhood e-newsletter to alert one another about safety concerns. Neighbors have called police about suspicious strangers and door-to-door salespeople. On one spring afternoon when one resident interrupted a burglary in progress at his home, three neighbors chased the burglar down the street and police arrested him.

Neighbors now greet one another by name on their street and have participated in social events, including block parties, holiday parties, election coffees and a summertime “Poppy Drive Camp" in which several families took turns taking children on excursions.

Neighborhood Networks in Burlingame create a sense of community that benefits everyone. This community spirit is the fabric that makes societies stronger and able to withstand emergencies. It also makes it more fun to live in our community.

How to Get Started

If you would like to start a Neighborhood Network in your Burlingame neighborhood, email info@theneighborhoodnetwork.org.