Cameron Smyth: Take steps to prepare for a natural disaster

Cameron Smyth

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that natural disasters can strike when we least expect them. Whether there are devastating wildfires burning throughout California, flash flooding during the first storm of the season or an earthquake that causes lasting damage, it is important that residents, and the community as a whole, have an emergency plan in place.

While many of these disasters begin unexpectedly, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate their impact and even prepare for those that we know are likely to happen. For example, this fall’s Tick Fire burned thousands of acres in the eastern part of our city, leaving the underlying soil loose and susceptible to movement. The city is working with its partners from Los Angeles County to inspect the burn area and take appropriate action to reduce the risk of flooding when the rain does come.

Another challenge residents face when there is increased fire danger is the prospect of a power outage or public safety power shutoff (PSPS). When the forecast calls for extreme and potentially dangerous fire weather conditions – high winds, low humidity – electrical circuits may be turned off to reduce the risk of a fire starting from malfunctioning equipment or a downed power line. Should there be a power outage or PSPS, you want to be prepared.

What this means for residents is that it is necessary to inspect and replenish your emergency supply kits. Ensure you have mobile chargers and backup batteries to power personal electronics and other devices. Now is also the time to check that your portable radio works properly and is tuned to a local news station so you can continue to receive updates in an emergency.

Should a disaster happen, such as a fire or an earthquake, and evacuations become necessary, make sure that you and your family have an evacuation plan and listen for instructions from local officials. Know the most efficient routes to take when leaving your neighborhood and the location of vital documents you need, including mortgage and insurance paperwork, passports, marriage and birth certificates and more.

The fall and winter months bring the potential for varying weather patterns, which means we must be prepared for any scenario. Fires remain a threat to the Santa Clarita Valley all year due to the weather patterns we experience and the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds us.

However, we are getting into the time of year when the temperature starts to cool off, and we are more likely to see rain in the forecast. To that end, it is possible that rainstorms this season could bring mudflow to the Tick Fire burn area, which is why we must all be vigilant in our preparedness. This also means it is a good time to clean out your gutters and check storm drains so they are clear of any debris that could cause flooding on your property.

Water damage, as well as damages and injuries caused by the debris flow, can have lasting effects. If you have not done so already, it is also a good idea to review your coverage levels in your various insurance policies to make sure you and your family are protected.

Please also take the time to visit the city’s Ready for Rain website at By doing so, you and your loved ones can get information on safety tips and find resources for how to prepare your home before the next storm arrives.

While Mother Nature has the power to throw unexpected problems our way, our community can take steps now to prepare for emergencies ahead of time in order to save lives and minimize damage. I encourage you to review your emergency preparedness plan and learn about the city’s emergency management efforts at

Cameron Smyth is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].

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