Since September is National Preparedness Month, during the Sept. 8 Signal Hill City Council meeting, Emergency Operations Coordinator Angel Hernandez shared steps individuals and families can take to prepare for local disasters.
In addition to preparing for pandemics like the current COVID-19, local residents should brace for potential calamities such as earthquakes, wildfires, power outages, droughts, heatwaves and landslides, Hernandez said.
“Disasters don’t wait,” he said. “Make your plan today.”
Hernandez referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s website Ready.gov as a comprehensive place to find disaster-planning information.
The site lists a number of questions to begin the disaster-planning process, such as “What is my family/household communication plan?” and “What is my evacuation route?”
Hernandez stressed that households should have alternative escape routes in case the main one becomes blocked.
Families should also practice executing their evacuation plan after receiving an emergency alert, just like with a fire drill at school or work, he said.
“Act fast,” Hernandez emphasized.
Hernandez pointed to Ready.gov’s Build a Kit page for a comprehensive list of emergency supplies residents should assemble for themselves and their families.
Those include food, water and clothing for each household member, as well as a first-aid kit, sanitation supplies like toilet paper and menstrual products, important documents, extra prescription medication and a radio.
Because of the current pandemic, Hernandez also stressed adding hand sanitizer and clothmasks to kits.
He said kits should be stored in a cool, dry place that wouldn’t be blocked during an earthquake and everyone in a household should know where they are. Kits should be updated at least annually if not twice a year, he added.
Receiving alerts is also highly important, Hernandez said. He urged residents to make sure their mobile-phone plans are set up to receive wireless city, county, state and federal emergency alerts.
The Signal Hill police department uses Nixle to relay alerts, which residents can sign up for if they don’t have it already, Hernandez said.
“Anything that could give you a heads up for things that may be happening in your area is good to have,” he said.
Hernandez also urged parents to talk to their children about the family’s emergency plan and preparations.
“They want to be a part of the solution,” he said. “Get them involved.”
Parents can invite kids to draw a map of the house with evacuation routes and a family meeting place, Hernandez suggested, adding that Ready.gov has a special page for kids and teens with more such preparedness activities and games.
The City of Signal Hill also has more emergency-preparedness information on its website, including a 21-week emergency-kit shopping list designed by the American Red Cross.
Councilmember Lori Woods said emergency supplies should be a regular part of a family’s shopping list.
“Just buying an inexpensive laundry basket or bin to put extra things in [can work],” she said. “It can be very simple if we do one step at a time.”
Councilmember Edward Wilson encouraged residents to have multiple kits, minimally one in the car and one at home.
“In a disaster, you never know what is going to be the consequence,” he said. “You may not be able to have access to your house or you may not be able to have access to your car. You just don’t know.”
The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7pm. To access and participate in the virtual meeting, visit the council’s webpage at www.cityofsignalhill.org/79/City-Council.