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.


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 or download Red Cross mobile apps at and prepare yourself today.


Go Go Gadget Preparedness Kit

Are you a lover of technology and gadgets? Do you wish you were more prepared for disaster? You may think these are totally unrelated questions, but they do overlap in the field of… PREPAREDNESS GADGETS (cue Mr. Moviefone and an over-dramatic echo).

What would you do if the power went out? If it was out for days? If your cell phone was out of charge and you were unable to contact your family or call for help? If you were prepared, then you probably had extra batteries on hand, but now they’ve run out. Whatever will you do? Easy peezy lemon squeezy. That scenario never happened because you were super prepared for that disaster and never had to deal with batteries running out because you had solar powered gadgets!!

It’s so simple and brilliant I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! Stores are selling all sorts of solar powered stuff nowadays. Many of these handy little gizmos have multiple power options too; they can run on regular batteries and their solar chargeable counterparts -so no matter what they’ve got you covered.

Some of you may be thinking that solar powered stuff is too expensive. To that I say nuh uh! Solar power is becoming a lot cheaper and more accessible. Okay, some of the stuff is a little pricey, but you can find a lot of gear in the $20 and under range. Plus, some retailers may offer better deals, so shop around. Don’t you just love technological advancement?

Consider these nifty contraptions to include in your preparedness kit:

Note: These are not required to be prepared, but could be useful (and awesome) to have.

Disclaimer: Examples are meant to give you an idea of the items available on the market, not to endorse any specific products/retailers.

  • Solar powered lanterns– Perfect for lighting up a room during a power outage. 
  • Solar powered or hand crank radio– A great way to stay informed during a disaster without having to worry about batteries.
    • The Red Cross Store actually sells one similar to this by Eton. It’s a radio, flashlight, and smart phone charger. There are multiple ways to power this puppy and it’s super portable. Check it out here. For the more high-tech one, click here.
  • Solar powered cell phone charger– Your cell phone will always be useful with this genius device. Crank ones are also available here and here (see description). Many solar radios have a cell charge option so keep that in mind before buying something extra.
  • Hand crank/ solar flashlights– Great for little ones (or anyone) to have during disaster. Tip: If you want to go the extra mile, many stores also offer waterproof hand crank/solar flashlights. (Example of hand crank only here.)
  • A solar powered battery charger-This baby puts the oomph back into your rechargeable batteries, with just a little sunlight. How awesome is that? So, if you already have preparedness gear that runs on AA or AAA batteries, this tiny machine can make sure they run for a long time in an emergency. 

If you really want to get crazy with the solar powered stuff (mostly for fun):

-Did you know they make solar powered fans? In the event of a blackout and a simultaneous heat wave, this green gadget can keep you cool. (Many have a removable solar panel that can be adjusted to get the best light.)

-A solar powered wireless sound system? That is the coolest thing I have ever heard! You can charge your phone on it-that is reason enough for me to buy, connect to it via Bluetooth, and listen to your tunes for up to 8 hours on a full charge. It’s water resistant so it would be great to take to the beach or pool (not to mention during a blackout when I need my music).

-Okay, this I just had to share-solar powered toys! I saw this little ‘solar frightened grasshopper kit’ –it moved when in the sun. It would be a great way to keep your kids entertained any day, but could be especially fun for them when the power’s out and TV, video games and computers are not an option. (You have to build the little guy, so it could provide lots of entertainment. Plus, it’s really cute.) Something similar here.

BONUS: All of this awesome solar powered stuff is great in a disaster, but can also be used for camping. (Hello, solar powered fan; you are my new best friend for a summer camping trip.)

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.

Preparedness Playlist 2

As you know, part of the mission of the Red Cross is preparedness. Most people immediately think of getting ready for natural disasters, disaster relief, etc. But what about being prepared for a medical emergency? Would you know what to do if one of your loved ones stopped breathing? I recently had to renew my CPR certification as part of my job at a daycare and realized that it is so important that everyone have some kind of training in this life saving skill. You never know if you could end up saving the life of a stranger or a close friend. Maybe even become a hero to someone and their family. So, check out and enroll yourself (and friends) in a CPR class. It could be something fun you do together. While you’re at it, check out the songs that inspired this blog post:

  1. How to Save a Life-The Fray
  2. Savin’ Me-Nickelback
  3. Save You-Simple Plan
  4. Someone Saved My Life Tonight-Elton John
  5. Hold On-Good Charlotte
  6. Bring Me to Life-Evanescence
  7. My Hero– Foo Fighters
  8. Your Guardian Angel-Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  9. Hero-Superchick
  10. Stayin’ Alive-Bee Gees (Bonus: You can keep beat to this song as you do chest compressions.)
  11. I Will Survive -Gloria Gaynor
  12. Hero Heroine-Boys Like Girls
  13. Just Breathe-Pearl Jam

Hey SoCal, Are You Ready?

Are you ready for any disaster? And I’m talking completely prepared for anything Mother Nature decides to throw at you. According to, only 6% of households in L.A. are truly prepared. So chances are you need a little help getting your family ready for a disaster. Well, lucky for you, the Red Cross is here to help you out. The Red Cross, partnered with Edison International, has created this incredibly informative website called Prepare SoCal. Yes, the one I mentioned above-a little foreshadowing anyone?

This site breaks down getting prepared into 3 steps:
1. Get a Kit : Maybe you are thinking where do I start? This website offers tips on what to include for whatever your needs are-from mini-kits and basic kits to the ultimate preparedness kit. If you don’t have the time or energy to put together your own kit, the Red Cross has got you covered there, too. Their online store offers kits in different sizes and levels-from basic 1 person to deluxe family kits.

2. Make a Plan: Knowing exaclty what to do in the event of a disaster can take the panic out of a situation, not to mention potentially save lives. Your family disaster plan should include a communication plan, disaster supplies kit, and an evacuation plan. Only four steps to a disaster ready plan:

  • Find out what could happen to you
  • Make a disaster plan
  • Complete the checklist (click the link and scroll down to see it)
  • Practice your plan

3. Be Informed: From earthquakes and wildfires to pandemic and terrorism, whatever it is, this site has got you covered. Use this resource to learn what disasters can affect you. Topics covered include how to prepare, what to do during a disaster and other related information. There are even first-aid tips on common injuries that may happen during that particular disaster.

Not a fan of reading? No problem. This site also has PrepareTV-short videos on different topics related to preparedness. So you can watch and inform yourself that way. (Psst… It’s a great tool if you’re teaching your kids about preparedness.)

Wanna go the extra mile and take a class? A little CPR training perhaps? You can find out more about that on this website, too.

Children’s Safety Festival

Earlier this month, the parking area of the American Red Cross offices in Santa Ana briefly became a holiday festival for families in need. Approximately 1,000 guests received toys, holiday stockings and books along with Red Cross disaster kits. NearlyPicture 094 400 youth from 40 Red Cross Clubs throughout the region collected close to 1,200 toys. They also created and managed more than 40 activity booths.

Children and parents alike gained valuable information from exhibits such as the Red Cross Preparedness Puppet Show, Edison and Electrical Safety, bike safety, Quake Cottage, disaster preparedness and earthquake drills, compression CPR training and a disaster kit scavenger hunt. They also enjoyed time with the local Orange County Fire Authority firefighters, refreshments from Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteers and holiday carols by Red Cross Emergency Services members.

Youth from the Red Cross Clubs were supported by staff and volunteers from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties along with AmeriCorps members. Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides also helped distribute children’s books with the team from Think Together.  Red Cross partners who contributed to the success of this annual event included Circle K, Disneyland, Edison International, Emulex, National Charity League, Orange County Fire Authority, Pacific Life, Printronix, Think Together and Westbound Communications.

Santa Ana Winds May be Coming, but the Wildfire App is Already Here

Santa Ana winds are expected tonight and with them a red flag warning, which means that there is also a high risk of fire danger.  Although we all hope that no fires occur, the Red Cross has released a free smartphone app to help everyone be aware of the risks and have a plan in place in case they do.

The Wildfire app, which can be found on iTunes and on the Google Play store, features interactive tools to help you prepare and let your friends and family know that you’re safe.  One of the most interesting things about the app, at least in my opinion, is a quiz on the wildfire history of the user’s location.

I knew that Orange County is a fairly high-risk area – I work for the Red Cross, how could I not? – but I had no idea that there have been more than 2,100 wildfires within 100 miles. As a comparison, there have “only” been 1,200 earthquakes within 250 miles.

Those stats, and today’s red flag warning, are not a reason to panic, but they should be an incentive to prepare.  Download the app, take a look at our preparedness tips, and, at the very least, please know how to evacuate and what items you truly would hate to lose.