California is subjected to potential natural disasters which include earthquakes, floods, landslides, wildfires, severe and extreme storms, tsunamis and even volcano eruptions. The recent wildfires in Orange County, such as the brush fire in Fullerton that resulted in the evacuation of the area, are important reminders for people to always be prepared for any unexpected emergency.
Stephen Horner of the Orange County Fire Authority suggests creating a household plan that includes pets to be prepared for a situation of immediate evacuation. Horner is the Captain and Public Information Officer of the OCFA, and a Fire Technology Instructor at Santa Ana College.
“It is very important because once you leave the area, most of the time, they won’t let you back in until the hazard is deemed safe to reenter,” he said.
The Red Cross recommends every household maintain a survival kit with essentials for any potential emergency event. Items in the kit should include water, sustainable nutrition, medications, medical supplies, emergency information and copies of vital documents such as a form of identification and insurance policies. The Red Cross and many other companies offer a variety of survival kits for sale that are convenient, but it is also possible to create one at home.
Capt. Horner also suggests maintaining the financial capability for necessities and shelter such as a hotel.
“Ensure that you have all the necessities to sustain within roughly 24 to 48 hours of supplies,” he said. “Now if you’re a fire victim of a home being burned out, the American Red Cross is happy to step in and help out.”
There are numerous public shelters provided by the Red Cross and other organizations for those in need during a disaster. Until evacuations have been lifted and fire officials say it is safe, it is essential to not return to the area.
According to Horner, one of the most important matters in emergency situations such as the recent wildfires is the cooperation, coordination and communication of the general public. That includes being prepared for any emergency event and evacuating in a timely manner.
“We need the roadways to access for fire equipment, we need to ensure that we respond with no delays and that the folks are prepared to be evacuated quickly, which helps us be able to do our jobs in a rapid fashion,” he said.
Most cities in Orange County, including Fullerton, have a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program that allows individuals to learn about disaster preparedness and be trained on how to respond and support those in their community during these situations.
“If there’s an opportunity to learn about emergency preparedness, partake in those that way you have a better understanding of what we ask of you as a fire police agency in the event of an emergency,” said Horner.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department provides an active map of public emergency information that includes the location of the incident, road closures, shelter locations and evacuation areas.