Emergency Preparedness

August 2013 — From LA Sheriff's Department:   Disaster Preparedness – Are You Ready Los Angeles County?  Tips and links to assist you here.

From Councilmember Mitch Englander’s Office:

“On January 17, 2012 the 18th anniversary of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, we kicked off our Year of Emergency Preparedness in Los Angeles.

“Throughout 2012, we will be working on legislation, programs and public awareness efforts to help the residents of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley be prepared for natural or man-made disasters.

“Every week, during our Year of Emergency Preparedness, our newsletter will feature a new item in an Emergency Preparedness Checklist. These are simple steps that everyone in Los Angeles should take in order to be prepared for any large-scale emergency or disaster. If you follow each item on this checklist, you will be highly prepared at the end of the year.”

Week 47: Advance Healthcare Directive

Part of emergency preparedness means hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. It’s a good idea to put an advance directive in place so that your family or friends will know what to do in the worst case scenario. An advance directive will allow you to leave instructions for funeral arrangements, power of attorney, organ donation, and other matters.

To learn more, click here.

Week 46: Have an Emergency Data Storage/Backup Plan for Your Home or Business

These days, we rely more and more on electronics and digital forms of conducting, storing and documenting our business and personal lives. Desktop computers, laptops and wireless devices are used by to create, process, manage and communicate information. Servers process information and store large amounts of data.

During an emergency event, access to the information stored on your electronic devices may not be available. Just like how a disaster recovery plan should be discussed for your household, the same considerations should be taken for your business.

Each business should develop an Information Technology (IT) disaster recovery plan beginning with a compilation of an inventory of hardware (servers, desktops, laptops and wireless devices), software application and data. A secondary back up storage method should be included in your plan.

For more information about how to develop an IT disaster recovery plan, click here.

Week 45: Prepare Yourself Mentally for Disasters

Keeping track of the huge amount of information about emergency preparedness can be overwhelming. Panic and stress are your enemy. The Department of Mental Health offers some clever tips to keep it simple so that you can stay calm.

Preparedness Tip: Pick a place to meet after a disaster. Designate two meeting places. Choose one right outside your home, in case of a sudden household emergency, such as a fire. The second place you choose needs to be outside your neighborhood, in case a disaster makes it unsafe to be near your home, or forces you to leave your entire neighborhood.

To see more tips like this, visit http://dmh.mo.gov/docs/diroffice/disaster/30Tips.pdf.

Week 44: Use Smaller Storms and Other Incidents to Help You Get Prepared for Disasters

Every year, the Los Angeles area experiences flooding during seasonal rainstorms, usually impacting hillside areas and neighorhoods adjacent to them. This can cause property damage and can be dangerous. The threat of dangerous mudslides and debris flows is much greater near hillside areas recently denuded by wildfires.

Los Angeles residents, especially those in foothill neighborhoods, are encouraged to prepare their properties in advance of coming rainstorms. Although the current storms are not expected to drop excessive rainfall, they can provide an opportunity to get more prepared for larger storms that are more destructive and dangerous.

In advance of rainstorms, the L.A. Fire Department makes ready-to-fill sandbags available at all Fire Stations. Sand may also be available at several of these Fire Stations, as well as at many Bureau of Street Services locations.

To learn more about where to find sand bags and sand, click here.

Week 43: Portable Survival Stove

When disaster strikes, electric and gas services may not be available. Purchasing a portable survival stove may be a worthwhile investment to boil water, cook food and to keep warm. There are several options available including solar, fuel cans and do-it-yourself.

Always observe safe cooking and fire practices. Don’t wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove, or leave items that can catch fire, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.

Week 42: Give the Gift of Preparedness

This holiday season, consider giving your loved ones an emergency preparedness kit! They are available in so many sizes and varieties, and for such a wide variety of prices that you can find the perfect kit for anyone.

To see some of the options that are available, visit http://tiny.cc/7xtvnw.

Week 41: Pack Warm Clothes in Your Kit

In addition to food, water and medical supplies, keep warm clothes in your emergency kit that you keep in your car, or in your “grab and go” kit in your home. Even here in sunny Los Angeles, night time temperatures can be in the 40s in the winter. After an earthquake or other major disaster, you could find yourself spending the night outdoors. Exposure or hypothermia, even in temperatures in the 40s, can be life threatening. A hat and warm sweatshirt or jacket could make all the difference.

Week 40: Incorporate Lessons Learned from Other Disasters Into Your Emergency Preparedness Planning

As with many natural disasters, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey can offer valuable lessons to help us be better prepared for earthquakes, floods, wildfires and other disasters.

Some notable lessons from Hurricane Sandy:

Follow evacuation orders. At least 98 people have died during Hurricane Sandy. Always follow evacuation orders, it could save your life.

Keep cash: Huge sections of Manhattan have been without power for days, making credit and debit card purchases impossible. That is the reason why everyone should keep cash in their emergency kits.

Flashlights: With widespread power outages, large numbers of apartment buildings in Manhattan lost the use of their elevators. Many residents in upper-story units struggled to get down their stairs and out of their buildings because they didn’t have flashlights and stairwells were completely dark.

Week 39: Check on Your Neighbors

After a major earthquake, everyone should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Emergency responders will be working on the most urgent cases first, such as schools, hospitals, high-rise buildings, and collapsed structures where there may be high numbers of trapped or injured people. In order to make our community more prepared to survive and quickly recover from disasters, it is crucial community members and neighbors help one another.

If you are un-injured and have taken care of your family, please go door-to-door on your street with a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, crow bar and flashlight and check on the status of your neighbors. Your neighbors could be trapped under furniture or a collapsed roof, knocked unconscious or seriously injured and unable to contact help or their families. You could save a life.

Week 38: Sunscreen, Walking Shoes & Maps

It’s a good idea to keep sunscreen, walking shoes and city maps in the earthquake kit in your car. If you are in your car when a major earthquake strikes, the roads may become impassible, and you could have to walk a long distance to get home or to a shelter. Paper maps may be old-fashioned in today’s era of smartphones with GPS maps, but if internet or phone service is down, a paper map could help you get home.

Having to walk for several hours in high-heeled shoes or men’s dress shoes could make the journey painful and slow, so it’s a good idea to keep walking shoes in your car. Without sunscreen, you could end up with a bad sunburn. Under disaster conditions, even small physical injuries like this can become a serious problem.

Week 37: Participate in the Great California ShakeOut

The Great California ShakeOut is coming up on Oct. 18. In addition to helping emergency planners and responders conduct the largest scale earthquake exercise in history, it is a great way to get better prepared.

At their website, www.shakeout.org, you can register as a participant, and it is one of the best resources in the world to find information on how to get prepared to survive, and quickly recover from a major earthquake. It also has huge amounts of information on earthquake preparedness equipment, training, planning, earthquake science, special educational sections for kids, and much more.

Week 36: Valley Emergency Preparedness Fair

Come to the 5th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair and you can learn a lot about how your family can get prepared for major earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and other disasters. The free event is on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Fire Station 87 at 10124 Balboa Blvd. in Granada Hills, and offers a wide range of information and resources. Click here for more information.

Week 35: Cash

Hopefully, everyone has a survival kit in each car, in their home and in their office. One important item you should consider for your survival kit is cash. After a major earthquake, power outages could last for days or weeks. That means that many stores might not be able to process credit card purchases. It’s a good idea to have cash in your survival kit so that you can buy necessary items without relying on credit cards, ATM machines, debit cards, or checks.

Week 34: Instant Cold: Compresses / Chemical Packs / Ice Packs

First Aid for some injuries is applying a cold compress. But if you are without power for an extended period, you won’t have access to ice (unless you own a generator that can power your refrigerator). An easy, low-cost solution is instant cold compresses. The cold packs do not need to be refrigerated, and are activated by bending the package, which mixes two chemicals together to produce a cold compress that lasts for hours. To see an example, click here.

Week 33: Trash Bags for Your Toilet

Following a major earthquake, you may be living in your damaged home for days or weeks before repairs are completed. While your water may be running, it is advisable to not flush your toilet until you have had an inspection or are certain that your sewage pipes are not damaged. If you flush your toilet and your pipes are cracked or broken, the leaking water could damage your foundation, or you could have a raw sewage leak under your home. No one wants that!

To avoid this, keep extra trash bags with your emergency supplies. You can line your toilet with a trash bag, and then seal and bury the bag outside away from your home.

Week 32: After the Incident – Electrical Safety

Being prepared for emergencies also means knowing what to do after the incident. Here are some reminders concerning electrical safety:

Never touch a downed or dangling wire or anyone or anything in contact with it. Always assume a downed line is still energized. Report any downed power lines immediately by calling the LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP.

If a power line falls on your car, stay in the car and wait for help. If standing water is present, stay in your car and wait for help. If you must get out, make sure you do not touch the metal parts of the car and the ground at the same time. The safest exit method is to open the door, stand on the door sill and jump free without touching the car.

If there is damage to the connection from the power pole to your house, you should go to the electrical box and turn off the main switch or shut off the fuse switch. Again, always assume electric lines are live.

In case of an electrical emergency, stay calm and think before you act. Don’t become a victim while trying to help others. Call 911.

Week 31: Find out Where the Red Cross Shelters Are Located

When a major earthquake, wildfire or other disaster strikes that requires evacuations, destroys homes or otherwise displaces people from their homes, the American Red Cross establishes emergency shelters in the community. These shelters offer displaced people a place to stay, as well as food, medical attention, clothing, grief or trauma counseling and other necessities. The Red Cross has released an iPhone app that will let you find out where the Red Cross shelters will be in your community. It shows locations and shelter details across the United States. You can see details about each shelter, such as the agency managing the shelter, capacity of the shelter and current population, the associated disaster event and the specific shelter address and location.

The application uses data about open shelters from the American Red Cross National Shelter System (NSS). The NSS contains information about 60,000 potential disaster facilities and is used to track and report on shelter information during disasters. The NSS enables emergency managers and disaster relief workers to identify relevant information for all shelters in use and to develop effective response strategies before disasters strike.

To learn more or to download the iPhone app, click here.

Week 30: Mechanical Can Opener

Make sure you have a mechanical can opener in your emergency supply kit. If a major earthquake hits, you could lose power for an extended period of time, and you will need a mechanical can opener to open canned foods.

Week 29: Small Earthquakes Are a Great “Shake-Up Call” to Be Prepared.

A series of small earthquakes was detected around Yorba Linda on Aug. 8, the strongest of which had magnitude of 4.5. Thankfully, no injuries or damage were reported. Small earthquakes can help us to be more prepared: they are a very strong reminder to get your earthquake preparedness supplies and plans in place. If you have not done so already, it’s a reminder to check the expiration dates of your emergency food, water, medication and batteries.

Week 28: Think About Recovery After a Disaster…

While a great deal of attention is paid to preparing for earthquakes and other disasters, most people do not know what to do following a disaster. Recovering from a disaster can be a slow and traumatic process. But being more prepared in advance can help you and your family cope, and get back on your feet faster. Before a disaster strikes, you can find the American Red Cross shelter locations, Salvation Army stores, and local volunteer organizations that offer food, shelter, supplies and can assist in clean-up efforts following a disaster. To see a guide with information on finding local recovery resources, as well as tips on Health and Safety, Returning Home, Seeking Disaster Assistance, Coping with Disaster, and Helping Others, click here.

Week 27: Learn to Prepare Your Home for Floods and Mudslides…

Every year during heavy rains, floods and mudslides threaten lives and properties, especially in hillside areas following wildfires that strip away vegetation. If you live in a hillside area, the L.A. Fire Department recommends that you get sandbags and learn how to use them in advance of the rainy season. During heavy rainstorms, all neighborhood Fire Stations have sandbags available for residents, and some have sand available. To find your local Fire Stations, visit http://lafd.org/find-a-fire-station/275-fire-station-locator. You can call the Fire Stations to find out if they carry sandbags.

To see the Emergency Management Department tips on how to prepare for floods and mudslides, click here.

To see the Building and Safety Department’s guide on protecting your home from floods and mudslides, with information on how to make sandbag barricades as well as other tips, click here. The Bureau of Sanitation makes sandbags and sand available at many of its facilities. To look up which facilities carry them, visit http://bss.lacity.org/resurfacing/storm.htm.

Week 26: Keep in Contact With Your Children’s School

It is important to know your emergency procedures your child’s school has in place in case of an earthquake or other emergency situation so you will know where your child will be and what you should do.

Always make sure your contact information with the school is up to date and that the school staff have phone numbers where you can always be reached, including an out-of-town friend or relative in case local phone lines are down.

During most emergencies, the school is the safest place for kids to be – Police and Fire officials focus heavily on ensuring the safety of schools, and know the location, size, layout and leadership of every school in the community. LAUSD school staff (and staff at most private schools) have been trained in what to do during emergencies, and will react quickly to ensure the safety of children. To learn more about the emergency procedures at your child’s school, contact the school administration or click here

Week 25: U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Reports

Did you feel something shaking? The fastest, most reliable way to find out if there was an earthquake, and where the epicenter was and what the magnitude was, is to visit the website of the U.S. Geological Survey. They track every earthquake in the world in real time, with maps, dates, times, location and magnitude.

The USGS website also has vast amounts of information about water, weater, climate change, ecosystems, energy, and many other things that are relevant to disaster planning, preparedness and response.

Week 24: Drop, Cover and Hold!

We live in earthquake country, and everyone needs to be prepared and ready to act because quakes will strike without any warning. Earthquake experts agree that when an earthquake occurs, you should “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”

DROP down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquakes knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.

COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, only then should you get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won’t fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.

HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

To learn more, visit http://www.earthquakecountry.info/dropcoverholdon/

Week 23: Emergency Contact Cards

When a person is injured and unconscious or killed in an earthquake or other disaster, it is crucial that the family members are contacted immediately. Hospital emergency rooms treat millions of patients every year, and they may have no way of notifying family members of victims. That is why it is crucial to carry an emergency contact information card on your person at all times.

To download an emergency contact card click here. Fill it in, and include any medical conditions such as diabetes, or any allergies to medication, as well as your healthcare directives and your wishes for organ donation if you have them.

Make sure that everyone in your family knows what is on the cards, and who the emergency contact people are. Be sure to include an out-of-town phone number, since during major earthquakes, phone lines often become overloaded with calls almost immediately, but it is often still possible to make calls to other areas.

Week 22: Emergency First Aid Manual

These days, people have become very accustomed to looking up medical and first aid information on the internet. But if a major earthquake or other disaster strikes, you may be without power for a long period of time, so it’s a good idea to keep a printed first aid book or manual together with your first aid kit. Even if you have had first aid training, you may need to look up specific information on how to respond to open wounds, shock, poisoning, or other medical emergencies. There are many excellent first aid manuals available. To see some examples, visit http://tiny.cc/21myfw.

Week 21: Emergency Tools for Your Car

It’s a good idea to keep a seatbelt cutter and glass-breaking tool in your car in case of emergency. If an earthquake, flood, wildfire or other major disaster strikes, becoming trapped inside your car could be deadly. There are many low-cost tools available that would enable you to quickly and easily cut through your seatbelt and break the car window to allow you to escape. To see examples, go to http://tiny.cc/zfdkfw.

Week 20: Decide whether Earthquake Insurance Is Right For You

Only about 12% of Californians with home insurance have quake coverage. Whether you should purchase earthquake is a complicated question that you should consider carefully. Earthquake insurance is expensive and limited. But if your home is damaged in an earthquake and you have no earthquake insurance, the cost of repairs could be so high that you could lose your home entirely. It’s important to look at what the coverage costs, covers and excludes.

The California Earthquake Authority is a good resource, offering a lot of information that can help you make a decision. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to make earthquake insurance affordable to anyone who wants and needs it. To learn more, visit California Earthquake Authority’s website.

Week 19: Dust Mask, Gloves, Sneakers and Goggles in Your Mobile Emergency Kit

Every car and home should have a mobile emergency earthquake/disaster survival kit. (In your home, this is in addition to your regular emergency supplies.) It should be stored in backpack, so that you can grab it and go. If you are in your car when a major earthquake hits, you may be unable to drive on roads that are damaged or blocked. You may have to walk long distances to get to shelter. If you are at home, you may need to climb through obstacles and debris to get out. Your surroundings could also be dusty, and filled with broken concrete, broken glass and other debris. That is why it’s a good idea to keep a pair of walking shoes, as well as a dust mask, safety goggles, and work gloves in your emergency earthquake/disaster survival kit.

Week 18: A Flashlight in Every Room

We all know by now that every house and workplace needs to have flashlights (preferably handcrank or other types that do not require batteries) in case power goes out following an earthquake or other disaster. It’s also a great idea to have a flashlight in every room in your home. If the power goes out and it is completely dark, you may have a very hard time making your way through your house to get to your flashlight. There may be broken glass and overturned furniture obstructing your way as well. If you have a flashlight in every room in your home, you will always be able to reach one if the power goes out.

Week 17: Give An Earthquake/Disaster Survival Kit for Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day, why not show your mother how much you care by giving her an earthquake/disaster survival kit? Every person should have a kit in their car, in their home and at their workplace. Each kit should have a handcrank or solar powered radio and enough food, water and medical supplies to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Week 16: Crowbar

Not many people realize that a crowbar can be a crucial tool to keep in your home. If a major earthquake strikes, the shifting of the structure of your home can jam all of your doors shut. If you have to get outside because of a fire or a gas leak following an earthquake, you could be trapped inside your home. A heavy crowbar will allow you to force a door open or get it off the hinges completely to allow you to escape. Crowbars are available at any hardware store, and can usually be purchased for under $25. To see examples visit http://tiny.cc/908mdw.

Week 15: Remember to Change Water & Batteries Every 6 Months

Once your family has assembled your earthquake/disaster survival kits, it is easy to get complacent and forget to make sure that the batteries and water that you store are always fresh.

Many people don’t realize that batteries and most drinking water stored in plastic bottles do have expiration dates. After sitting for too long, batteries will die out. Water stored in plastic bottles over long periods can absorb chemicals from the plastic or even through the plastic. It’s a good idea to mark your calendar so that every 6 months, you swap out all of your batteries and water for fresh supplies.

Week 14: Secure heavy objects in your home

If a major earthquake strikes, heavy objects inside your home will become potentially lethal flying projectiles unless they are securely fastened. Special heavy-duty nylon straps can be used to anchor TVs, bookcases, entertainment centers, and other heavy objects to the wall or floor.

Use “museum wax” or putty to anchor smaller glass or ceramic objects from falling and spreading broken glass on the floor. Broken glass on the floor can be a hazard for anyone trying to get out in the dark.

To learn more about securing objects in your home, click here

Week 13: Get CPR training

If an earthquake or other major disaster strikes, we must be prepared for the possibility that emergency responders will not be able to reach everyone immediately. Roads can be destroyed or blocked, and emergency resources will be responding to the largest and most urgent incidents first. Getting trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid could save the lives of your family members or neighbors. Take an American Red Cross first aid and CPR training course, and find out who in your neighborhood is also trained in first aid and CPR so that if disaster strikes, you can be ready to be self-sufficient until help arrives. To find where Red Cross classes are offered near you, click here.

Week 12: Get CERT-trained

All individuals should be able to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours following a major earthquake. During that time, community members can do a lot to help themselves, their families and their neighbors by having basic first aid, evacuation and other emergency training.

The best way to get prepared is to get CERT trained. CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – is the Los Angeles Fire Department’s nationally acclaimed free community emergency training program. The CERT program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. CERT members receive 17.5 hours of initial training, usuall one day a week for seven weeks. The courses are free for any City resident over 18 years old.

To learn how you can sign up for a CERT class and see schedules and locations, visit www.cert-la.com.

To arrange a class (20 person minimum) for your community-based organization, Neighborhood Council, school or house of worship, call (818) 756-9674.

Week 11: Secure your hot water heater

During an earthquake, unsecured hot water heaters often fall over, rupturing water and gas connections. This can cause fires, and it can waste what is otherwise up to 50 gallons of clean drinking water. The water in your water is clean and safe to drink, and could become a crucial source of water if municipal water supplies are disrupted for long periods following an earthquake.

Your water heater should have two heavy steel straps that wrap completely around it and are screwed into the studs or masonry of the wall. Easy-to-install bracing kits are available at most hardware stores or emergency supply stores. Also, have a plumber install flexible (corrugated) copper water connectors if you do not have them already. They are less likely to rupture during an earthquake.

To read in more detail about how to secure your water heater and how to utilize it as an emergency drinking water source, click here

Week 10: Sign up for Emergency Alerts

It is crucial during a large-scale natural or man-made disaster such as an earthquake, wildfire, flood or terrorist incident to stay informed. Everyone should have a solar or handcrank-powered AM/FM radio to hear updates and alerts, but there are now more emergency information channels available. Public safety authorities will broadcast information on the radio as well as various websites and alert systems about which roads and bridges are closed, which areas to avoid, and where to go for shelter, medical aid, food and water. Here are several valuable tools you can use, all of which are free and open to the public to use.

NIXLE – LAPD’s emergengy alert system. Sign up to receive emergency information by email or text messages to your phone, or look at alerts and updates on their website. Sign up for one or multiple zip codes. http://local.nixle.com/city/ca/los-angeles.

AlertLA – Los Angeles County’s emergency alert system. Sign up online, and you can receive “reverse 911” phone calls. http://portal.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/alertla.

ReadyLA.org – City of Los Angeles’ official emergency preparedness and response website and Twitter feed

LAFD Alert – City of Los Angeles Fire Department’s blog

LAFD’s website

LAFD’s Twitter feed

LAPD’s website

LAPD’s Twitter feed

Week 9: Fire Extinguishers

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher, but it’s just as important that you have the proper type of fire extinguisher. Fire protection experts recommend you keep one for the kitchen, one for the garage and one for the rest of the home. Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, based on different types of fires. Each fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that serves as a guide for the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle. The higher the number, the more fire-fighting power. They can be purchased at Target, WalMart, Home Depot, Lowes, and other hardware or household wares stores, and online.

Be sure to check the expiration date of all of your fire extinguishers and mark them on your calendar to be inspected and refilled. It is also a good idea to get trained in using a fire extinguisher before you need it in an emergency!

To see a training video on how to properly use a fire extinguisher, visit MySafeLA, the City’s official fire and life safety information website.

Week 8: Emergency Escape Ladder

Anyone who has a two- or three-story home needs to consider their emergency evacuation route in case their stairs are blocked in a fire, earthquake or other emergency necessitating evacuation. Jumping from a window could lead to serious injuries, especially for the elderly or for young children. A compact emergency escape ladder can be easily stored under the bed or in a closet and pulled out when needed. Make sure everyone in the house knows where it is and how to use it.

You can choose from a wide variety of emergency escape ladders. To see some examples, click here.

Week 7: Have Extra Supplies of Your Prescription Medications

In case of a major disaster, pharmacies may be closed or damaged for an extended time, and you may not be able to get prescriptions refilled. If you require prescription medications, you should stockpile supplies. Get extra refills and store them in your emergency supplies kit. Check the expiration dates and mark them on your calendar, and refresh them before they expire. If disaster strikes, you do not want to have expired prescription medications in your survival kit – expired medications can be ineffective or harmful.

Also make photocopies of all your prescriptions and store them with your essential documents. It can make it much faster and easier to get prescriptions filled or refilled if you are at an emergency shelter, a clinic or a hospital and do not have access to your own doctor or healthcare facility.

Week 6: Have a Plan for Your Pets

Our pets are members of our families, and we need a plan for them in the event of a disaster. Have a rescue alert sticker (available at your local pet supply store) visible in one of your home’s windows that lists the number and species of animals in your home. If you take your animals when you evacuate, write “Evacuated” across the alert sticker.

Keep a back-up a supply of pet food, prescription medications, kitty litter, and essentials. Also, assemble an animal evacuation kit. To learn how, visit theASPCA’s website. Keep a pet carrier in your home in case you must evacuate with your pet.

For Service Animals:  If you must evacuate, take your animal with you. The best way to ensure their safety is to evacuate with them. Locate pet-friendly hotels, or pre-arrange to lodge with friends or relatives outside of your immediate area who can accommodate your pets.

Large Animal Evacuation:  In the event of an evacuation ordered by emergency personnel, Los Angeles Animal Services will activate evacuation sites for horses and other large animals. Various locations may be used, depending on the location of the emergency and the area to be evacuated. If there is an emergency in your area and you believe an evacuation may be ordered, or if you have been ordered to evacuate, call West Valley Animal Shelter to get current information on large animal evacuation sites in your area. West Valley Animal Shelter: (818) 756-9325. To learn more, visit Los Angeles Animal Services webpage about pet evacuation.

Week 5: Copies of Your Essential Documents

February 9 was the 41st anniversary of the Sylmar/San Fernando Earthquake. At 6.6 on the Richter Scale, it was one of the worst earthquakes in Southern California history. It’s a great reminder to be ready for the next big earthquake. In an earthquake, wildfire, flood or other disaster, you may have to evacuate your home in a hurry. You could find yourself away from your home for an extended period, or your home and its contents could be destroyed.

So it’s a good idea to make copies of your most essential documents (health and property insurance, medical records, bank accounts, mortgages, wills, copies of passports, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, and other information). These records can be hard to replace, and could be necessary immediately following a disaster.

Make two sets of copies of these documents. Store one in a fireproof and waterproof safe, or in a safety deposit box. Put the other copies in a folder and store them in a backpack emergency kit in your home, so that if you must evacuate, you can grab it and go. (Backpack emergency kits are kits with enough food, water and medical supplies for a few days, stored in a backpack so that the whole thing can be carried easily over long distances.)

To learn more about your essential documents, click here: http://www.ready.gov/insurance-vital-records.

Week 4: Locate Your Gas Shut Off Valve

Natural gas leaks can occur inside or outside the home during an earthquake, landslide or other disaster. This can cause fires and explosions. It’s important to know where your emergency gas shut off valve is so that you can turn it off after an earthquake.

If you hear or smell gas or find a broken gas line, or suspect a gas leak: Find your emergency gas shut off valve and turn if off using an open ended wrench. Open all doors and windows. Make sure that all electrical appliances are turned off. Do not turn on light switches.

The gas shutoff valve is located on the gas line leading into your gas meter, normally located on an outside wall in a side yard or back yard. Sometimes they are found in an outside closet. This valve, about 6 to 8 inches above the ground, runs parallel with the meter pipe, and is bright red. With a wrench, give the valve a 1/4 turn in either direction until the valve is crosswise to the pipe. Do not attempt to turn the gas back on. Call your utility company to do this.

To learn more about your gas shut off valve, visit ReadyLA, http://tiny.cc/nvw0s, the City’s official emergency preparedness website.

Week 3: Hand-Crank Emergency Radio

Make sure that you have a good quality hand-crank emergency radio. Large-scale power outages can last for weeks, so you should have a radio that does not depend on batteries. This is a crucial tool to make sure you receive emergency information, such as the location of shelters, medical services, or food and water supplies, or messages from public safety officials. There is a wide range of different devices to choose from in all different price ranges. In addition to a hand-crank and/or solar panels for power, many of the radios include a flashlight, siren and cell phone charger.

Week 2: Begin Assembling An Disaster/Earthquake Surival Kits

Every car, household and workplace should have a disaster preparedness kit. This requires quite a bit of work, so this week, we offer the first simple steps.

Week 1: Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

Having a plan in place so that your family members know what to do during and after an earthquake or other major disaster is crucial. This includes such simple steps as having a third party that family members can call to let each other know their status and location. Please visit “Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety,” a free, comprehensive preparedness guide, for detailed instructions on how to make your complete family earthquake preparedness plan. Click here to see the guide.

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