When Disaster Hits
Fires, floods, mudslides and earthquakes—at times—have wreaked havoc across California, causing many citizens to lose their homes and even their loved ones. Emergencies can happen at any time.
It is important to be prepared for a disaster so that injuries and loss of life are minimal.
Do you know what to do or have a plan in case of an emergency? Fire, police and emergency medical services may be delayed in responding. Being prepared will help you take care of yourself, your family and your community.
Please take a few minutes to review some of the ways you and your family can be prepared in case there is an emergency. As always, it is a pleasure to be of service to you.
BEFORE A DISASTER
1. GATHER INFORMATION
Gather contact information for individuals, medical providers, fire department, poison control, police, the local office of emergency services, home and medical insurance and more. Other information to gather:
- Know what types of disasters are common in your area, and plan accordingly; and
- Know CPR - it could save a life
- Check that natural disasters are covered by your policy;
- Take pictures of your belongings.
Know where to get information
- Know where to listen for announcements from local authorities on TV, local radio or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather stations or channels.
2. CREATE A FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
In the event of an emergency, answers to these questions will need to be automatic:
- Where will you meet loved ones if your home is unavailable?
- Who should your children trust if you cannot get to them?
- How will you know where to go should you evacuate?
- What should you bring with you?
- Consider having one out-of-town family member as your primary contact to help avoid clogged phone lines.
Put your answers to these questions into a family disaster plan. Be sure to:
- Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 and who to contact in the event of an emergency;
- Practice evacuation from your home and the route you will travel to escape the emergency.
Download a printable Family Disaster Plan with an emergency checklist to help you through an emergency.
3. GET OR BUILD A KIT
Prepare a kit that you can take should you need to evacuate. Check your kit at scheduled intervals for expired supplies. Your kit should be lightweight (without the food and water), portable and should contain the following:
Non-perishable Food and Water for Three Days:
- Store at least one gallon of water per person per day.
- Store ready-to-eat canned food (with can opener), staples, and high-energy foods.
First Aid Kit
Assemble a kit for your home and one per car. A kit should include: bandages of various sizes; alcohol based sanitizer or germicidal/antiseptic wipes; non-latex gloves; adhesive tape; anti-bacterial ointment; cold pack; small scissors; tweezers; CPR breathing barrier; and other items specific to your needs.
Tools and Supplies
Disposable plates, cups and utensils; battery operated radio and flashlight with extra batteries; utility knife; matches in a waterproof container; extra cash and coins; feminine products; glasses or contact lenses; maps with evacuation routes clearly marked; and a fire extinguisher.
Clothing and Bedding
One complete change of clothing and footwear per person, along with blankets or sleeping bags.
- Keep important documents, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, bank account numbers, prescription information and credit card numbers in a waterproof, locking firebox or other portable container; and
- Some families have special needs for the elderly or young children;
- Make sure to stock up supplies for your pets.
DURING A DISASTER
Find all family members
(are they all home?)
Get Emergency Kit and any special items
Find your pet(s)
Bring cell phone and radio if not in your kit
Get important family documents and pictures
Get prescription medication for you and your family
Remember your family's escape route
Find your family meeting place
1.) outside the home, or
2.) outside neighborhood
Turn off utilities if necessary
Leave note for others if you will not be returning
Turn on radio for reports
AFTER A DISASTER
- Make sure it is safe before you return to your home—contact local police, fire departments, or disaster relief agencies for information;
- Register as "Safe and Well" with the American Red Cross, so your family and friends will know your status and can obtain your contact information. Utilize the Red Cross and local services to locate lost loved ones. Visit www.redcross.org for more information;
- Contact your insurance provider to make a claim for damaged property; and
- After life has returned to normal, evaluate what happened during this emergency for what worked well and what should be changed or altered when preparing for the next potential disaster.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- California Earthquake Authority [www2.earthquakeauthority.com]
- California Department of Public Health [www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov]
- California Office of Emergency Services [www.caloes.ca.gov]
- US Department of Homeland Security [www.ready.gov]
- American Red Cross [www.redcross.org]
- Centers for Disease Control Public Inquiries or (800) CDC-INFO (800) 232-4636 [www.emergency.cdc.gov]
- Fire Safety Council [www.firesafecouncil.org]
Sources: The American Red Cross, Governor's Office of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FEMA.