Are you prepared for an emergency?
If you’re not, now is the time to prepare, as September is National Preparedness Month.
Brittany Gotschall, a spokeswoman for the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the local chapter received a number of phone calls since the recent power outage from people with questions about how to be prepared for an emergency.
“It gave people an opportunity to think about getting prepared,” Gotschall said.
Not being prepared, Gotschall said, is a common mistake.
“I think a lot of times the mentality is that ‘This won't happen to me,’ or ‘I don’t have to worry about this,’ but I think what we’ve seen, especially in a year like 2011, is that disasters can strike anytime, unexpectedly and catch many people off guard,” Gotschall said. “Our biggest recommendation for people is to get prepared for those disasters in advance.”
Gotschall said there are three steps to preparedness: Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
Emergency kits should include water, nonperishable foods, first aid materials, personal hygiene items, prescription medications, batteries, flashlights and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. People should have enough items to be prepared for at least three days, Gotschall added.
“It can typically take up to 72 hours for emergency responders to get assistance to people that need it,” she said. “If people can be prepared in advance for what they might need for at least three days, then they’ll be able to sustain themselves until emergency workers can get out to help them.”
Families should also create emergency plans for different scenarios, Gotschall added. She encouraged people to know emergency contact numbers and have an out-of-state emergency contact person to get in touch with. Families should also know different evacuation routes and choose a meeting place, she said.
In addition, Gotschall encouraged people to be informed and know what types of disasters are most likely to occur where they live. Earthquakes and wildfires, which are common in California, might require different emergency plans, Gotschall said.
People should also be aware of the emergency services available and sign up for alert messages or notices from federal, state and local authorities, she added.
“National Preparedness Month is just a really good opportunity to sit down and talk with you family,” Gotschall said.
“This year alone, we’ve seen hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes. They really can happen at anytime. And then we’ve also experienced the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, which is another reminder that the more we can be prepared, the better we can keep ourselves safe when something happens.”