Marsha McLean | The Importance of Emergency Preparedness in the New Year

Marsha McLean

As someone who experienced the 1994 earthquake at our home in Santa Clarita, and as someone who participated in the city’s inaugural Emergency Preparedness Program (SECURE) as a trainer, I can attest to how valuable it was to be prepared for a disaster. 

We are embarking on a new year filled with hope and aspirations, and it is crucial to take a moment to consider our safety and that of our loved ones. One of the most responsible and proactive steps we can take is to prioritize emergency preparedness. From creating comprehensive emergency contact lists to ensuring your home and car are well-stocked with supplies, the beginning of the year is an ideal time to fortify your readiness for unforeseen events such as wildfires, earthquakes and more.  

Having a clear and well-organized emergency plan ensures that everyone in your household knows what to do in case of an emergency. Our city is no stranger to emergencies, so be diligent when creating your evacuation routes, designating meeting points and establishing communication protocols. Regularly practicing these plans with your family is a great way to make sure everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario. Assign responsibilities to each family member, and ensure that everyone knows how to shut off utilities such as gas, water and electricity at your home.  

The foundation of any emergency preparedness plan lies in having an up-to-date emergency contact list. Compile a list that includes essential contacts such as family members, friends, neighbors and your health care providers. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of this list and knows how to access it quickly. Consider including contacts from outside your immediate area who can serve as a liaison in case local communication is disrupted. Great places to put this list are on the refrigerator or in the glove compartment of your car. Another way of having this list on hand is by taking a photo of it on your phone and saving it.   

Speaking of phones, always make sure your cellphones are powered and have a designated place for charging during emergencies. Having a backup power source, such as portable chargers or external batteries, can be invaluable when regular power is unavailable. 

Stocking up on essential supplies for both your home and car is also a fundamental aspect of emergency preparedness. In your home, consider creating an emergency kit that includes non-perishable food items, water, medications, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit and important documents. Regularly check and update the contents of this kit, ensuring that items haven’t expired and that they meet the unique needs of your household. Don’t forget about your pets. Make a to-go bag filled with any of their medications, food, water and a bowl.  

For your car, a basic emergency kit should include items such as a spare tire, jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, water, non-perishable snacks and a first aid kit. Be sure to conduct routine maintenance checks on your vehicle to minimize the risk of breakdowns during emergencies. First aid supplies are integral to any emergency preparedness plan. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures and consider enrolling in a first aid and CPR course to enhance your skills. 

Stay informed about potential emergencies and disasters in your area by signing up for local emergency alerts and notifications. The city’s social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) are great places to go for updates. During an emergency, the city’s website will also launch the Emergency Blog which will have updates, resources, maps and more. Whether it is street closures, evacuation, updates on a wildfire and other crucial information, be sure to only get information from trusted accounts. In addition to the city’s pages, consider signing up for Nixle Alerts. Residents and those in neighboring communities can subscribe to receive emergency notifications through Nixle by texting SCEMERGENCY to 888777.  

It may sound like a lot of preparation, but you will be glad you did and once you begin the steps, you will be surprised at how easily it comes together.  The beginning of the year is an opportune time to reassess and strengthen your emergency preparedness efforts. By implementing these practical tips, you can create a safer and more resilient environment for yourself and your loved ones. Remember, being prepared is not just a precaution, it’s a proactive step toward ensuring the well-being of your family and community.  

As we embrace the new year, let us also embrace the responsibility of safeguarding the future through thoughtful and thorough emergency preparedness. 

Councilwoman Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected] 

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