Wildfires have consumed more than one million acres across California this summer and there is one thing Angelenos can do to get ready: prepare. September is National Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region is urging everyone to take five simple steps to prepare for disasters so that they can say "I'm Ready."
During September, residents of Southern California are invited to participate in free virtual classes and self-guided tools as part of the Red Cross PrepareSoCal campaign designed to make every household ready for disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes and home fires. Everyone who attends a virtual class or completes the evaluation at preparesocal.org during the month will receive a free "I'm Ready" sticker pack to celebrate their success with friends, family and neighbors.
"Disasters can happen any time and the number of active wildfires across our state is proof that disasters aren't going to wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to subside," said Joanne Nowlin, CEO of the Red Cross in Los Angeles. "During National Preparedness Month, we hope that families who may be spending a little more time at home due to the pandemic can use that time to take these important steps so you and your loved ones can react quickly if an emergency occurs."
Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a proclamation declaring September as preparedness month:
"As Californians grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the largest wildfires in state history, this Preparedness Month is a time for all of us to reflect and act on our shared responsibility to be prepared. Individuals, neighborhoods, businesses and communities can all take steps to increase their resilience and look out for one another when disaster strikes."
The free virtual classes and self-guided tools available at preparesocal.org make it easy to take the 5 steps recommended by the Red Cross for everyone living in Southern California:
- Get a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications.
- Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
- Be informed – Know what to do before, during and after a wildfire, earthquake and home fire.
- Learn CPR – In an emergency situation, you will be the first person on the scene. Make sure at least one member of your household is fully trained to administer CPR and First Aid.
- Download the Red Cross Emergency App – This FREE all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts, provides expert advice on how to prepare and respond to disasters and includes a map to help you locate open Red Cross shelters. Available for download in your app store of choice or by texting: "GETEMERGENCY" to 90999.
Everyone who takes these five steps during an online class or can pass the self-evaluation at preparesocal.org will receive a free PreapreSoCal "I'm Ready" sticker pack to encourage friends and neighbors to prepare, too. Each sticker pack contains a static window cling and vinyl sticker that will be mailed out to eligible participants while supplies last.
PrepareSoCal is an American Red Cross multi-region campaign designed to address the needs of individuals and families to prepare for disasters small and large, by providing tips, tools, and training, and to promote community resiliency with a focus on Southern California's most vulnerable communities.
DISASTERS DURING A PANDEMIC
Preparing for emergencies is a little different this year, but the basic action steps remain the same for everyone. 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.
- Some emergency kit supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now.
- 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.
- Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open and if pets are allowed.
- Due to the pandemic, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions, available resources and shelter facilities.
Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at redcross.org/coronavirus.
BLOOD, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Severe weather during a pandemic can have an even greater impact on the ability of the Red Cross to collect lifesaving blood products due to an increase in canceled blood drives and decreased donor turnout in impacted areas. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. If you are feeling well, please make an appointment today to give by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-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. Find out more at redcross.org/volunteer.