By Supervisor Andrew Do
As we all pray and share our support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, we need to reflect and be aware that natural disasters could happen to us right here in Orange County.
If there was a natural disaster or emergency right now, would you be ready? What’s your plan for you and your loved ones? September is National Emergency Preparedness Month and, as the chairman of the Orange County Emergency Management Council, I encourage everyone across Orange County to make a promise to prepare.
Natural disasters are a likely occurrence across Southern California. We have identified the top five disasters likely to occur in Orange County:
- Earthquakes: We sit on a number of seismic faults, causing earthquakes to be commonplace. You should identify areas in your home that are safe spaces to take cover during a sudden earthquake.
- Wildfires: These can be deadly and are all too common in Orange County, causing an incredible amount of damage to property and open space every year. Many of us remember the Freeway Complex Fire of 2008 that destroyed homes, businesses and caused the evacuation of about 40,000 residents. You can prevent losing essential documents, prized possessions, and being separated from your family by having a list of what you need to grab before you evacuate and planning where to meet loved ones in case of an emergency ahead of time.
- Flooding: One of Orange County’s most likely disasters is flooding. Flash flooding can strike with little to no warning and devastate low-lying areas. In Central Orange County, areas of Westminster happen to lie within a flood plain, making it essential for residents to learn about the dangers of fast moving flood waters. Only six inches can knock you down and one foot can sweep away your vehicle.
- Landslides: A variety of factors can cause landslides including earthquakes, fires and storms. These often occur with little to no warning. The best way to be prepared is to stay informed about your surrounding area’s history of landslides. Be aware of any changes in storm water drainage down slopes, doors or windows sticking or jamming for the first time, cracks appearing in walls or foundations, breaking of underground utility lines, unusual sounds such as the cracking of trees, among others.
- Tsunamis: Remote tsunamis are the most frequent to hit California. The best way to prepare for a tsunami is to have an emergency kit and plan ahead of time. Follow your local tsunami evacuation route, as it will take you to higher ground.
National and regional research shows that more than 82 percent of U.S. residents are aware that emergency preparedness is important, yet most have made little to any actual preparations. The fact of the matter is that first responders and government agencies will not be able to meet your every need in the event of a disaster. Knowing what to do ahead of time and having supplies on hand is key to the safety of you and your loved ones.
If you don’t know where to start, Orange County’s emergency preparedness initiative ReadyOC can help. ReadyOC.org offers step-by-step, in-depth advice on how to prepare for disasters. Putting together a disaster kit, making a plan and staying informed are all essential in case of an emergency. You can make your promise to prepare as a commitment that in case of a disaster you have a plan in place; you are ready.