Action Tips: 6 Musts For Your Neighborhood Watch


Creating a neighborhood watch sounds easy enough, right? That's because it is. But here are a few tips on what's exactly involved in getting your watch up and running.


The last thing anyone wants is more meetings to attend! With a neighborhood watch there are really only two major meetings that need to happen.

The First Meeting

  • This lets you see who's interested in joining. And allows you to tell what's involved and expected of participants.
  • Take this time to set up a map, a phone tree, and electing a captain and co-captain(s).
  • You may also want to distribute information on Emergency Response, what kinds of disasters are common in your area, and what to do in a disaster.
  • Visit our natural disaster and disaster preparedness pages for resources. Your police department can help you find materials or you may also consult with your local American Red Cross for advice.

Yearly Social

  • After a watch is in place, there should be at least one neighborhood social per year. This may be a BBQ, Community Garage Sale, Neighborhood Picnic, or some other type of family friendly, all-inclusive gathering.
  • Captains and co-captains give quick highlights and goals for the year. This could be done as a speech or flyers handed out at the event.
  • This would also be a good time to check and make a note of any changes in information for the watch - like changes in phone numbers, etc.
  • After a quick recap of "watch business" the rest of the social is a chance for neighbors to get to know one another and put faces with names. 
  • Consider having your annual social during September, the National Preparedness Month. This is a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies.

Captain & Co-Captain

  • Captains and co-captains help organize records and keep track of the disasters in the neighborhood.
  • Captains are the contact point for people to notify of changes such as phone numbers or new residents.
  • Captains welcome new residents to the neighborhood and inform them about the neighborhood watch to see if they'd like to participate.
  • Most importantly, captains are informed of any and keep a record of disasters and emergencies in the area.
  • Co-captains and can have their duties covered by co-captains when gone.

Phone Tree

  • This is the easiest and fastest way to help notify the neighborhood of important events.
  • Each person only calls a few people and then the next group calls the next.
  • The phone tree may be used to help notify the neighborhood a certain type of disaster at a specific location occurred.
  • Some may opt for an email instead of a phone call. Just be sure to include all that want to be involved. 


  • Pamphlets or emailed letters will help give the neighborhood updates of what has been going on the last couple of months.
  • Unless there are major concerns, newsletters may be quarterly or every couple of months. (i.e. update residents about local events/holiday related safety rules.)
  • The police department may already have a newsletter available that you can just add the watch info to.


  • Show the streets involved in the watch, the homes, names of residents, phone numbers, emergency in-state and out-of-state contact numbers and email.
  • This information is always voluntary.
  • You may also want to include information on disaster prone areas in your community. Consult with your local emergency response departments when compiling this information.

Get the background on disaster preparedness. GO