September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time to get prepared for disasters. From earthquakes to wildfires and more, Southern California is prone to no-notice events, and the time to get prepared is now. Being prepared can reduce your family’s anxiety over what to do during emergencies and will increase your resiliency following a disaster.
Even though getting prepared can seem overwhelming, it is relatively easy to do once you break it down into smaller, more manageable activities. If you tackle one task each day throughout the month, you'll be prepared before you know it. Investing the time now is well-worth being prepared when needed.
Tuesday, September 1 – We are starting you off with a big one – your emergency kit! You may have many of the items already in your home, but collecting them in an easy-to-grab backpack or bag is a more efficient way to find items when they may be needed. Download an emergency kit checklist from redcross.org/prepare and make a list of the items you need pick up on your next errand run. Or, buy a disaster kit at redcrossstore.org. If you already have a kit, make sure no items are expired, missing or in short supply.
Wednesday, September 2 – Make your communication plan. Know how local authorities will contact you in case of a disaster, whether that is through local radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio stations. You can buy emergency radios at redcrossstore.org. Our usual technology access can be interrupted in a disaster – email or text messages may be more reliable than calling cell phones and it may be easier to reach someone out of the area. Pick a friend or family member outside of the area who each family member can call to check in and let them know you’re safe.
Thursday, September 3 – Know your risks. Do some research on what disasters occur most commonly in your area. Learn what to do before, during and after each type of disaster and share the information with everyone in your home. Those who live near canyons will want to be prepared for wildfires, coastal residents may want to learn about tsunamis and those who live near rivers should read up on floods. Everyone in our region should know what to do during an earthquake, wildfire, home fire and more. To learn how to prepare for different emergencies, visit redcross.org/prepare.
Friday, September 4 – Sign up to receive emergency notifications on your cell phone. Most counties use regional notification systems that send telephone notifications to residents and businesses in areas impacted by, or in danger of being impacted by, an emergency or disaster. Landlines are automatically registered through the 9-1-1 database, but you must opt-in to receive notifications on your cell phone. Visit your county’s official website for emergency management information and to register for your local reverse 9-1-1 system.
Saturday, September 5 – Clear your property of wildfire risks. This means clearing the area of dead or dry vegetation and combustible items and creating at least 30 feet of defensible space around your home. Remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire, as well as fallen leaves, pine cones, and other dry plant material.
Be sure to cut your grass regularly, or start the switch to drought-friendly landscaping. For more tips visit http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Defensible-Space/.
Sunday, September 6 – Create emergency contact cards for each member of your family. Make sure it includes: name, cell phone number, place of work or school, and any other important information. Take a photo of the card to keep in your cell phone and print wallet-sized cards to carry with you or put in kids’ backpacks.
Monday, September 7 – Preparing during a pandemic. In addition to your kit’s normal contents, consider adding cleaning and disinfectant supplies, hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings. Some supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now. For more tips on preparing during a pandemic, visit redcross.org/coronavirus.
Tuesday, September 8 – At least one person in your family should be CPR certified and know how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Register for a class by visiting redcross.org/takeaclass. Some classes are blended with online and in-person class time to reduce the amount of time away from home, and classes are currently offered with social distancing and COVID-19 precautions in place. Get started now – register for an upcoming class and do your online portion of the class today!
Wednesday, September 9 – Put flashlights and batteries in several places around your home. If the power goes out after an earthquake or any other disaster, you’ll be able to grab a handy flashlight to safely make your way through your home.
Thursday, September 10 – Fill your gas tank AND commit to always keeping it at least half full. You never know when a disaster will strike and if it may inhibit your ability to refill your gas tank – long lines, lack of fuel or structural damage could all be obstacles. Don’t get stranded away from your family or have trouble evacuating just because you don’t have enough gas to get you where you need to be!
Friday, September 11 – Put preparedness in the palm of your hand. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for access to localizable severe weather alerts, preparedness checklists, a shelter locator and more. The app also provides step-by-step tips on what to do next if a disaster is occurring in your area. You can find the Emergency App by searching for “Red Cross” in your phone's app store, by visiting redcross.org/apps or by texting "GETEMERGENCY" to 90999. If you have kids, download the Red Cross Monster Guard App to help children prepare for real-life emergencies inside and outside of the home, while also keeping them entertained.
Saturday, September 12 – Create an emergency escape plan with your family so everyone knows where to go during and after an emergency like a home fire or an earthquake. Download family disaster plan templates from redcross.org/prepare. Make sure that each family member knows two ways out of each room (usually through a door and an accessible window) and practice evacuating with you children, pets and your emergency kit. Figure out where you can safely reconvene (i.e. a neighbor’s driveway or other landmark). Escape plans should be able to be executed in two minutes or less, so take 10-15 minutes to walk through your home with your family and talk about the plan – then take two minutes to practice!
Sunday, September 13 – What’s your pandemic disaster plan? Disasters can force people to leave their homes, even in areas under stay-at-home mandates. By having an emergency plan your family can react quickly if a disaster strikes. Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them. Check and see if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they do, make other arrangements. Due to the pandemic, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources. Find more information at redcross.org/coronavirus.
Monday, September 14 – Create mini-disaster kits for your car and workplace. Stock each kit with a flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit and cell phone charger (with car adapter for your car kit) or external battery pack. Have some bottled water handy and keep some non-perishable food such as granola bars within reach. For your car, make sure you have maps, a tire repair kit, jumper cables, flares, a white distress flag, and a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Tuesday, September 15 – Check for earthquake safety within your home. Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation and provide recommendations for strengthening exterior features, like porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors. Anchor items in your home, such as lighting fixtures, to make sure that nothing breaks during an earthquake. Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit. Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases and china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over. Visit redcross.org/earthquake to learn more about what you can do to prepare yourself and your home before an earthquake.
Wednesday, September 16 – Commit to fire safety habits in your home. Practicing fire safety habits make a home fire less likely so be sure to never leave candles unattended, always stay near the stove/oven when cooking and make sure that appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets. Fix or replace frayed extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs. Visit redcross.org/homefire for additional fire safety tips.
Thursday, September 17 – Walk through your house and push the TEST button on each of your smoke alarms. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm in each bedroom and in any living areas or hallways, away from kitchens and bathrooms that can set it off by steam from showers or cooking. Replace old or dead batteries – or better yet, buy new smoke alarms that have built-in batteries that last for 10 years. If there are kids in your home, involve them in testing the smoke alarms, teach them what a smoke alarm sounds like and what they should do if they hear it. Click here for more information about fire safety for kids.
Friday, September 18 – Participate in a virtual preparedness presentation! In honor of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross Southern California Region is offering free, virtual preparedness presentations throughout the month of September. Presentations are hosted on Zoom and are led by disaster experts. Topics include home fire preparedness, earthquake preparedness and more. Click here to see upcoming presentations. Today’s presentation for Friday, September 18, will take place at 10:00 a.m. PST and will focus on wildfire preparedness!
Saturday, September 19 – Practice what to do during an earthquake – DROP, COVER and HOLD ON! Practice looking for places to seek cover under during an earthquake when you are at any location, including work or at your child’s school. Doorways are not the most reliable so make sure that you take shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture or another reliable area. Move as little as possible and try to protect your head and torso. If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head. If you're in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines, if possible. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Mark your calendar to take part in next month’s 2020 Great California ShakeOut on Thursday, October 15.
Sunday, September 20 – Purchase a fire extinguisher for your home and know how to use it. An extinguisher rated “A-B-C” is recommended for home use. Many fire extinguisher models are designed for one-time use and cannot be recharged. Get training from the fire department or a fire extinguisher manufacturer. Fire extinguishers from various manufacturers operate in different ways and there is no time to read directions during an emergency. Only adults should handle and use extinguishers. Click here for more fire safety equipment.
Monday, September 21 – Meet your neighbors! Connect with people in your immediate neighborhood and community to discuss what everyone can and should do in case of an emergency. During COVID-19, connect with neighbors through video calls, phone calls, texts or social media. Find out if any of your neighbors may need assistance evacuating in the case of an emergency, especially if they have mobility challenges or do not have their own transportation.
Tuesday, September 22 – Find a safe place to keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables so they will not get damaged. Consider purchasing a fireproof and waterproof safe to keep these documents protected in your home. While you’re at it, create a “Digital Disaster Kit” – scan all your important documents onto a USB drive that you can tuck into your emergency kit. You may need quick, easy access to these documents in the event of an emergency.
Wednesday, September 23 – Volunteer with the American Red Cross. As you prepare for disasters, the Red Cross is preparing too. We encourage people to join us by volunteering in their local community. A variety of positions are available, including disaster shelter and health supervisors. Learn more about urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday. You’ll learn even more about how to be prepared yourself as you’re helping others prepare, respond or recover.
Thursday, September 24 – Make social media work for you. Social media is a quick source for information in the event of a disaster. Follow reputable accounts like local news stations, law enforcement and fire departments (including Cal Fire) and official government channels for your area. Be sure to follow the Red Cross Southern California Region on on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Friday, September 25 – Make your evacuation plan. Do you know two ways out of your neighborhood? What would you do in the event of a road closure? Do you know where you will go if you have to evacuate? It could be a to a friend or family member’s house, but also make sure you know how to find an open shelter. You can locate open Red Cross shelters by visiting redcross.org/shelter and by looking for official announcements on the news and social media. While service animals are welcome, pets are typically not allowed inside of Red Cross shelters. Depending on the disaster, we may have the ability to co-locate pet shelters on the same premises as people shelters, and we often work with local animal services organizations to make sure evacuees have resources to ensure their pets are cared for. Make sure to evacuate with your pets and make plans for any livestock as well.
Saturday, September 26 – Familiarize your family with the Red Cross Safe & Well website in case any family member gets separated during a disaster. In an emergency, letting your loved ones know you are safe can bring them great peace of mind. The Red Cross Safe and Well website allows people to list their own status during disasters and allows friends and family to search for messages from their loved ones. The site is always available and open to the public and is also available in Spanish. Visit safeandwell.org for more information.
Sunday, September 27 – If you’ve made it this far, you’re close to prepared by now, so it is time to share your knowledge. Talk to at least one other person today and tell them how they can get prepared. Guide them on what steps to take and what resources they can use to be safe. Join the conversation online using #NatlPrep.
Monday, September 28 – Help your community be prepared by donating blood. Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – and in the event of a disaster or emergency, it is the blood currently on the shelves that helps save lives immediately. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. If you are feeling healthy and well, visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment to donate blood in the coming days and weeks.
Tuesday, September 29 – Make sure you have adequate insurance. Check whether you live in a floodplain and whether you need flood insurance. Make sure you have renter’s insurance for personal property or home insurance for your belongings and your home’s structure. Visit the California Earthquake Authority for information on earthquake insurance.
Wednesday, September 30 – End National Preparedness Month by testing your knowledge and taking inventory of what you’ve learned during our 30 Days of Preparedness! Is your emergency kit in order? Does your family have a plan for when disaster strikes? How prepared are you for an emergency? See if you can say: “I'm Ready.” Take this self-guided evaluation to test how prepared you are and determine if you are ready for disasters!
How did you do? Were you able to celebrate National Preparedness Month with us and keep up each day? Share your story with us on social media using #NatlPrep and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.