Santa Clarita is a beautiful place to live. The rolling hills that surround our community offer ample opportunities for hiking, picnicking and just enjoying the beauty of nature. However, we also live under a constant threat of earthquakes, the potential for devastating wildfires and, when heavy rains come to Santa Clarita, we must also be prepared for potential flooding. This is why it is critical to plan your emergency response before a disaster occurs.
The devastating Tick Fire that swept through our city last October showed the resilience of our community, as neighbors came together to support one another during a very trying time. Unfortunately, it also served as a reminder that we must be prepared for a disaster at any time, as those who had to evacuate did so at a moment’s notice, and some were not allowed to return home for several days.
Having a comprehensive emergency plan for your family will help save lives and minimize damage when a crisis hits. While a major component in your plan will be what to do if you need to evacuate, the most overlooked elements include what items you should have on hand as emergency supplies.
Since disasters do not strike on a set schedule, it is necessary to have an emergency preparedness kit in both your home and at work. Some of the items you want to pack in your home kit include cash, household documents (such as insurance policy and mortgage information), light sticks and a copy of your family’s evacuation plan and procedures. At work, you should make sure you have access to comfortable walking shoes, a flashlight and an extra change of clothes. Both kits should be stocked with water and non-perishable food, as well as emergency contact information, medication and glasses.
Emergency preparedness kits are not just limited to the home and office, however. It is also smart to make sure your car has the equipment you need. Ensure that your vehicle always has at least a half tank of gas so you can get where you need to go without stopping first. It is also good to have a first aid kit, utility knife, jumper cables, tire change kit and a change of clothes, just in case. Don’t forget about your pets! A good rule of thumb is to have three days of food and water packed, as well as familiar and fun items to reduce stress. You can find a full list of items to consider for your kits by searching for “Emergency Preparedness” at santa-clarita.com.
Although the weather has been relatively mild to start the year, it is important to remember that fire season in Southern California is now year-round. In addition to preparing your family’s emergency kit, there are some things that you can do around the home to reduce the risk of fire damage. Clear away brush and debris from landscaping and gutters and install smoke detectors in each bedroom and every hallway.
Test your smoke detectors regularly and change out the batteries every six months. Having a fire extinguisher handy will also help you stay prepared. If you don’t have one already, search for one that is labeled “ABC” that is suitable for combustibles, liquids and electrical fires.
There are also a number of opportunities to receive training so that you can be best prepared in an emergency. The city of Santa Clarita offers various workshops at city facilities and in partnership with community organizations, including the American Red Cross.
These trainings include automated external defibrillator (AED) operation, sessions specifically on adult and pediatric first aid and CPR from the American Red Cross and Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). You can learn more about these opportunities by reading the latest copy of Seasons Magazine or by visiting santa-clarita.com/Seasons.
Emergencies are frightening and stressful; however, with advanced planning, you and your family will be prepared for any scenario that comes your way.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].