[Santa Rosa, CA – October 19, 2015] The forecast for a strong El Niño is making news with an El Niño weather pattern that could be one of the strongest on record. While there are no guarantees, there is the potential for a significant wet winter. Thus, American Red Cross is encouraging residents to prepare their homes and property for the coming wet weather and to arm themselves with safety tips- before significant storms arrive.
“With the threat of El Niño ahead, it is important for every family to be prepared for flooding, landslides, power outages and more,” said Jeff Baumgartner, Chapter Executive, American Red Cross of the California Northwest. “Make sure everyone in your home is prepared for disasters big and small. Have an emergency kit always ready to go with essential items like food, water, medications, and flashlights.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for El Niño:
Downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App to your mobile devices: The Red Cross Emergency App provides people with instant access to emergency alerts and life-saving information. Available for smart phones and tablets, it includes content on what to do before, during and after a variety of severe weather events. Users can customize more than 35 emergency weather alerts based on their location and where loved ones live. The app also includes tips on how assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know you are okay, and a real-time map to help you find the location of Red Cross shelters should you need to leave your home. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting redcross.org/apps.
Creating and practicing a Disaster Plan: Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice. To locate the nearest Red Cross emergency shelter, check your flood app or visit redcross.org/shelter. Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and a seven-day supply of essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like your insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items for the whole family.
Heeding Storm Warnings: A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the designated area. People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. Keep children and pets out of the water, as they are curious and can be harmed by flowing or contaminated water. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
We urge you to share these Red Cross preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time. For more information on what to do before, during and after a flood, landslide and more, please visit redcross.org/prepare.
About the American Red Cross of the Central Coast
The American Red Cross of the Central Coast is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that depends on the generous contributions of time and money from Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito County residents and companies to provide services and programs that help our community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. For more information on disaster preparedness, health and safety classes, volunteer opportunities, and financial contributions, visit our website at redcross.org/centralcoast or call us at 831-462-2881. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.