By Ryan Peters, Fire Captain, Aptos-La Selva Fire District
As I sit down to write this month’s column, lightning is streaking our morning sky. It’s incredible to find that we’re already in the middle of September! Summer has, much like a bolt of lightning, come and gone so quickly this year.
But even as summer fades into fall, this is the time of year when Santa Cruz County experiences the highest threat of wild land fires locally. We still have some warm and dry weather ahead, so let’s all maintain our fire safety awareness and keep our community fire safe until the first rains arrive.
It just so happens that September is National Preparedness Month. Living in California has its perks but, after several years of severe drought, wildland fires are just one of our summer and late fall realities we really need to be prepared for as a community. While we live in a wonderful place along the California Coast, Santa Cruz County has more unique hazards per square mile than in any other county in the state.
We have the potential for almost everything, fire, earthquakes, floods, storms, wind, mudslides, tsunamis, and the list goes on. So the best thing we can do is hope for the best but plan for the worst. Fortunately, if you and yours take the time to be prepared for any one of these risks, you are more than likely prepared for any situation that might present itself. Best of all, getting prepared and being ready is easy and straightforward.
First and foremost you must have a plan. What is your family plan if you need to evacuate? What if your family is separated during an event? Be sure your plan includes a family reunification, either physical or verbal to ensure everyone is accounted for and safe. Remember cell phones and local landlines may be down so for landlines, have an out of state (or out of area) contact just in case.
- Water: One gallon per person per day for a minimum of 3 days.
- Food: Keep 3 days worth of non-perishable food. Rotate this food into normal use to keep your kit fresh or better yet restock your food supply annually and donate the existing food to a food bank during the holidays.
- Have flashlights, portable radios and batteries for both.
- Keep extra medication on hand up to 7-day supply in your emergency kit.
- Items for your children.
- Items for your pets.
There are many other items for your emergency kit. Visit one of the websites below for a complete list of items to consider.
Ensure that your home is as ready as possible to withstand the possible insults from both natural and man-made events.
Take all of the measures necessary to protect your business and employee’s as well.
Get involved within your community with emergency preparedness. There are many organizations that you can get involved with as a volunteer to not only learn more on how to prepare your home and family but to help others prepare as well.
CERT is an excellent program to get involved with and learn not only how to prepare but also how to respond in the event of a disaster.
American Red Cross is also an excellent organization that you can join to learn and help in many ways.
Volunteer and become acquainted with Medical Reserve Corps, Volunteers in Police Service, Fire Corps, Civil Air Patrol, American Radio Relay League and Meals on Wheels are all great organizations. There is something for everyone so get involved.
Let’s take September to become as prepared as we can for whatever is thrown our way. That way, while we hope for the best, we will be prepared for the worst.
For more information please visit our website at WWW.APTOSFIRE.COM or visit the websites for The American Red Cross, FEMA, National Weather Service or even the CDC for tips on how to be prepared.