By Pat KRAMER
El Niño, fires and earthquakes are situations that residents of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys are intimately familiar with. In 2009, the devastation of the Station Fire was experienced, which swept through the back side of the Angeles Forest in just 48 hours, killing two firefighters, scores of animals and destroying natural habitats for local native wildlife as it also destroyed homes throughout Big Tujunga Canyon.
Floods are also common threats to those living in hillside areas where crumbling earth can give way at any second, or rain swollen rivers can rise without warning, taking out roadways and causing flooding.
But the biggest threat of all is of “The Big One,” which refers to a devastating major earthquake, according to the website
“The ‘Big One” is a hypothetical earthquake of magnitude – 8 or greater – that is expected to happen along the San Andreas Fault. Such a quake would produce devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the SAF quake zone, especially in urban areas like Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“Even those who survive the immediate earthquake will find themselves in danger. The first thing they will need is water, but most water mains will probably have been broken. Utilities such as electricity, natural gas, gasoline, telephones, etc. will be interrupted for days, weeks or longer. Medical facilities will be jammed and unable to handle the casualties. Most people will not be able to get to the hospital because roads will be damaged. Banks will be closed, as will any organization that relies on the internet. Little if any food or medicine will reach the area, and radio/TV communications will be spotty at best,” states the website.
“The best way to prepare for the BO is to plan on camping for two weeks; think sleeping bags, tents, and living outdoors. This means not only basic necessities (food, water, clothing, shelter) but the knowledge of how to survive.”
Residents need to ask themselves if they know what to do in the event of a fire, flood or earthquake, or will they be among the thousands of people waiting for someone else to tell them what to do.
Sunland-Tujunga residents who want to be better prepared for a natural disaster are invited to attend the one-day Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fire Station 87, 10124 Balboa Blvd. in Granada Hills. This event is sponsored by the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, among other NCs, and is hosted by the Southern California Preparedness Foundation (www.socalprep.us). Registration is free but required at http://valleydisasterfair.com.
The event will provide residents with the know-how to better prepare themselves, their families and their pets for whatever may be coming. There will be expert speakers, demonstrations of emergency equipment by firefighting personnel, emergency preparedness giveaways, and free food and free parking. Attendees will also receive information on how to plan for disasters and what to have on hand in their home, car and garage, what to do if power, heat, refrigeration and communication is lost.
There will be trained and experienced emergency staff available to ask questions and learn from. Find out what survival supplies will come in handy and help maintain comfort in case residents have to “bunker down” in their home for anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
Plan for children’s and pets’ needs in advance and have a way to quickly transport pets, should it be necessary to leave home.
Most importantly, have all critical, valuable and irreplaceable papers in an easy-to-grab location along with emergency medical supplies, medications, non-perishable food, water and many other items that are absolute “musts” in an emergency.
Some quick pointers to keep in mind:
In an earthquake, duck, cover and hold on. When it is safe to do so, evaluate damages to yourself, your family, pets, and your home. Have a “Go Bag” ready to grab should you need to evacuate.
In a fire, evacuate immediately if you see, hear, feel or smell smoke. Have a “Go Bag” ready to grab with three days’ worth of food, water, clothing and other emergency items for you and your family and pets. If you are caught in a fire, stop, drop and roll!
If there is a threat of a mudslide, evacuate immediately and have your “Go Bag” ready with needed items, food, water and clothing as well as other emergency supplies. If caught in the middle of a mudslide, move to higher ground as quickly as possible and await rescue.
What is in a “Go Bag”? A Go Bag is an individual emergency kit for each family member. These items can be placed in a backpack or other easy to carry bag. (Pets should also have a Go Bag). Go Bags should be stored near beds, in the car and at the workplace (yes, there should be three in total).
For more information on what items to stock up on, go to http://www.socalprep.us/#handout for a variety of valuable informational flyers and documents.
Be sure to be prepared before a disaster hits. That preparedness will pay off when needed most.