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By OC Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

Living in Southern California certainly has its perks—warm weather year-round, proximity to a magnificent coastline, majestic mountains, lush forests . . . the list goes on.

While beauty abounds in this wonderful state, so does the risk of natural disasters. California has long experienced many devastating events, such as wildfires, earthquakes and mudslides, to name but a few. That is why it is incumbent upon all of us to be prepared for such emergencies now, and not wait until they come knocking on our door!

National Preparedness Month (NPM), recognized each September, provides each of us an opportunity to prepare ourselves and our families for unexpected emergencies now and throughout the year. The recent fires throughout Northern and Southern California are a grim reminder of the need for everyone to be prepared for the unexpected long before it happens. Emergency situations can happen at any time, making it crucial for everyone to be prepared well in advance. NPM is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and this year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community. Below are some ideas we can all benefit from to help plan ahead.

• Make A Plan—Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. For ways to help you and your family make a plan for a disaster/ emergency, visit readyoc.org/prepare/get-plan.html.

• Build A Kit—Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home. Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. For ideas on what to include in your First Aid Kit, visit readyoc.org/prepare/make-kit.html.

• Prepare for Disasters—Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert. For ways to help prepare yourself and your families for different disasters/emergencies, visit readyoc.org/prepare/beinformed.html.

• Teach Youth About Preparedness—Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved. For ways you help teach your children on how to prepare for a disaster, visit readyoc.org/programs/ready-fox.html.

• Sign Up for Alert OC—AlertOC is a mass notification system designed to keep residents and businesses informed of emergencies that may require immediate life-saving actions. If you have not already done so, you can sign up at alertoc.com.

In addition, each year my office hosts the South County Disaster Preparedness Expo. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have partnered with Saddleback College and Cox Communications to bring the event to you virtually. Starting Wednesday, September 30, the “VIRTUAL South County Emergency Preparedness Summit 2020” will air twice daily for one week on Cox Cable Channel 39 at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. It will also be available on my Facebook page and YouTube channel.

This year’s event will feature a county update from my office and presentations from the Orange County (OC) Sheriff’s Department, OC Emergency Management, OC Health Care Agency, OC Fire Authority, Southern California Edison and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). I hope you find this information helpful. One more thing: Don’t forget to test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries at least once a year. Stay safe and, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 714.834.3550 should you have any questions or require additional information.

Lisa Bartlett sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District. She was reelected in 2018.

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