When the worst happens...
When there is a fire, earthquake, tsunami, or other disaster, Mendocino County Emergency Responders may be unable to reach all citizens immediately because of the size of our county and the potential difficulty getting to an affected area due to road closures, landslides or fires. Therefore, it is essential that residents and neighborhoods be prepared to be on their own for a minimum of 3 to 5 days. Being prepared for an emergency could save lives.
The four steps for emergency preparedness are:
- Prepare your home
- Make a plan
- Build an Emergency Kit
- Create a "Go-Bag"
Prepare your home
Go through your home and identify all potential hazards - for example, a heavy, unsecured bookcase that could fall over during an earthquake and block exits or cause injury if it fell on someone.
Here are some suggestions to safeguard your house
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change the batteries every 6 months
- Move beds away from windows where broken glass could injure someone
- Move heavy hanging objects like mirrors or pictures away from couches and places where people sit
- Secure all bookcases, mirrors, pictures, and other heavy items to the wall or mantel so they can't topple over
- Clear hallways for easy exits
- Keep an ABC fire extinguisher on each level of your home and workshop, and know how to use them
- Strap down your water heater
- Fit all gas appliances with flexible gas supply lines, and make sure the gas lines have earthquake shut-offs installed
- Store flammable or reactive chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, or paint thinners separately from each other
- Know how to turn off your utilities
- If you have safety bars on your windows, make sure they have emergency releases
- Be sure your address is easily visible from the street, so emergency vehicles will know how to find you
- Make duplicate copies of important documents and keep them off-site in a fireproof box with someone you trust or in a safe location such as a safety deposit box. Documents may include passports, birth certificates, wills, drivers license, social security information, insurance papers, prescriptions, or anything else you wouldn't want to lose
- Inventory valuables in your home with a written description and photos or video. Keep copies of these off-site with your other important documents
Make your home wildfire "defensible" Click here to learn more
Make a Plan
- Here is a Family Communication Plan Guideline for Parents (English)
- Here is a Family Communication Plan Guideline for Kids (English)
- Designate an out-of-area contact person, and provide this person with the names and contact information for all the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell them where and how they are
- Make sure everyone knows where to find your Disaster Supply Kit, and "Go-Bags"
- Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Identify two locations - one place should be outside your home and the second should be outside of your neighborhood if you are told to evacuate.
- Always make sure you have enough fuel for your vehicle if you had suddenly evacuate your home.
- Identify the two best escape routes from your home. Practice using these escape routes, as well as "Drop, Cover, & Hold" and "Stop, Drop, & Roll" drills.
- Make sure each family member knows who is the out-of-area contact and how to reach them.
- Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure other family members know how to turn them off.
- Take into account the special needs of children, the elderly, people with disabilities, pets, and family members who may not understand English.
Build an Emergency Kit
After a major disaster, such as a large earthquake, services we take for granted may be unavailable, like water, electricity, refrigeration, and telephone service. Even cell phone service can be interrupted if the cell towers are damaged. You and your family should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days, and possibly longer if you live in an isolated area of the county. Your emergency kit should be stored in a large, waterproof and rodent-proof container like a plastic garbage can (with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily. Depending on your individual family, the number of kids, seniors and pets, your emergency kit may vary, but here is a basic list:
Your basic emergency kit should include:
- Water -1 gallon per person per day
- Food ready to eat and requiring minimal water
- Can opener, plates, cups, utensils, and feeding supplies for animals
- First Aid kit with instructions
- Warm clothing and rain gear for each family member
- Heavy work gloves
- Disposable camera
- Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
- Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
- Plastic sheeting, duct-tape, and utility knife for tents and covering broken windows
- Tools such as a hammer & nails, crowbar, staple gun, adjustable wrench, rope and bungee cords
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Heavy duty plastic bags and a study plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
- Any special items for seniors, or toys for children, or people with disabilities, and items for pets like leashes and pet food.
You can find more information on the FEMA website here
Create a "Go-Bag"
Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work. Consider what you would need for your immediate safety.
- Radio – battery operated
- Dust mask
- Pocket knife
- Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
- Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes
- Local map
- Some water and food
- Permanent marker, paper and tape
- Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
- List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
- Information to register for programs such as the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website
- List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
- Copy of health insurance and identification cards
- Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
- First aid supplies
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Extra keys to your house and vehicle
- Any special-needs items for seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget to include necessary items for your pets.
Maintaining your kit
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life
- Use foods before they go bad or reach their expiration date, and replace them with fresh supplies
- Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded
- Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front
- Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.
For more information about The Mendocino County "Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)" click here