Do You Know How to Respond to Typical California Disasters?

By: Kyana Nguyen
Eleanor Roosevelt High School Red Cross Club
Riverside Y.A.C.

 By now you have heard numerous ways to get prepared for disasters; however I want to share with you a bit about what to expect from the three most common natural disasters we face living in Californians.

FIRES

Living in an environment that is prone to dry weather, fires are a prominent hazard. Fires range in size; however the effects of its flames may be felt near and far and could impact firemany surrounding areas. If you live in an area that is prone to fires be sure you have a pre-identified escape route and 2 safe meeting places – one outside your home and one outside your neighborhood should you need to evacuate. Be sure to practice this route with your family to ensure everyone knows where to go.

Although California is currently experiencing a drought, floods can easily happen and many areas of the state are at an increased risk due to wildfires. After a wildfire, the charred ground where vegetation hasflooded sign burned away cannot easily absorb rainwater, which increases the risk of flooding and mudflows. Floods are often severe and hard to control. During a flood, you can expect the water to be dirty, and depending on the severity of the flood, the higher the water raises and the longer it stands there is a possibility for disease to spread. Preparing for a flood includes having an evacuation plan, knowing where to go and what to bring. When evacuating your home remember to turn-off the utilities and be cautious of objects that require electricity. If you are in a vehicle abandon the car and move to higher ground, and always remember that running water has the ability to disrupt any movement at six inches.

Since the San Andreas Fault runs throughout California, earthquakes are a reality and something everyone needs to be prepared to experience. During an earthquake it is earthquakeimportant to drop, cover and hold-on as items that hang from the ceiling, or furniture not secured to walls are likely to move or fall. It is also possible for trees to become uprooted from the ground and wires to drop, so if you are outside find a clear space to drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your hands and hold-on. Earthquakes happen all the time, some are so small they are not felt, while others can be large enough to collapse buildings. Like fire and flood preparedness, earthquake preparedness requires a plan, supply kit and an out of area emergency contact.

To find more information about preparing, responding and recovering from disasters please go to http://www.redcross.org/prepare or download Red Cross mobile apps at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps and prepare yourself today.

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

Are you ‘Ready to Rumble’? Well, are you ready for when the earth decides to rumble? Yes, I’m talking about earthquakes. The tough thing about them is they can strike at any moment, day or night, in any season. They are so unpredictable-we never know if it will be a little one or a destructive one. What we do know is that being prepared is really, really, really important (Did you get my emphasis on how important it is?). So in honor of Red Cross month (and the little earthquake I felt this morning), I decided to do a little post on earthquake safety.

The Science Behind an Earthquake (just a quick summary):

Are you having 6th grade flashbacks to when you learned all about geology and how the earth is made of plates? Well, why is it important that the earth is made of tectonic plates? Because earthquakes tend to happen near the boundaries of these plates. As the plates move and shift against one another, it can create mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. I can get into the science a whole lot more, but I’ll leave it to the USGS (it’s really interesting, so check it out).

Why Be Prepared?:

According to the Red Cross earthquake page, 45 states and territories in the U.S. are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes. So it’s not just part of living in California. If strong enough, an earthquake can damage buildings, roads, and disrupt power lines. This is why everyone should be prepared. Because if any of this stuff happens it will be hard for help to reach you/responders will be dealing with helping a lot of people at the same time.

Don’t be afraid though! It may sound really serious, but if you are prepared and know what to do it can make dealing with a big quake a lot less scary. The Red Cross page for earthquakes has a checklist to print (in several languages) and info on what to do during and after. Also, now would be a good time to update your safety kit. If you don’t already have one, you can put one together or buy one (link to Red Cross store-if you want to put your own together the store is a good place to get ideas of what to include). At the minimum, you should have a first-aid kit (one for home, car, and office). Click here for a list of what to include (recommened by the Red Cross, of course).

Some Cool Quake Related Sites:

You can check out real-time updates of earthquakes all over the world here (provided by USGS). This site also has lots of info about earthquakes and how to prepare. There is even a kids section that has games and puzzles, pictures and ‘ask a geologist’ section (Bonus: it also has science fair ideas for your kids.). They also have a ‘Did You Feel It?‘ page where people can post when they feel the earth move.

All Shook Up

At 10:20 Thursday morning, every employee and visitor to our Orange County headquarters dropped to the floor, took cover under a sturdy piece of furniture and held on.  We then all exited the building and met up in the parking lot (many of us in hardhats). We weren’t looking for dust bunnies or to gossip about the latest episode of the Real Housewives, we were doing something much more important – participating in the Great California ShakeOut.

You may be wondering why we took the ShakeOut so seriously.  It’s because we, along with emergency managers around the country, know the importance of practicing our planning.  There is no way we can truly anticipate what we’ll go through physically and mentally in the event of a major quake, but we can prepare for it.

By practicing our response, our organization is doing what it can to ensure our employees know how to react, where to meet and how to get in touch following a disaster. What would you do if “the big one” happened at your office?  Does your company have a plan?  And, more importantly, do you know what it is? If not, you may want to add it to your to do list.  It just might save your life.