Emergency Preparedness

National Preparedness Month: Five Tips from the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department

September is National Preparedness Month. And with the recent disasters such as the Ridgecrest and Trona earthquakes, and Hurricane Dorian’s recent devastating landfall in the Bahamas, it begs one question: how prepared are you and your family? Your neighborhood? National Preparedness Month focuses on educating and empowering neighbors to prepare for emergencies that may take place in our homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. 

From wildfires and adverse weather, to mudslides triggered by flooding, or worse, tsunamis and earthquakes – disasters and major emergencies can strike quickly and without warning. Here are five tips on how you, your loved ones and neighbors, can be ready for the next emergency or disaster. 

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Tip 1: Prepare Supplies Well Before Disaster Strikes

Preparing yourself, your family, and your home reduces the serious impacts of a disaster. Build an emergency “Go Bag” for each person that lives with you. A “Go Bag” should be easy to carry (e.g. backpack or duffle), that contains important and personal items such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, glow sticks, hand-crank radio, clothing, battery charger, wrench, and prescription medication. Include copies of your ID, passport, list of medications, insurance papers, and other vital documents. Do not forget to make “Go Bags” for children and pets, including items such as diapers or leashes! Find a helpful checklist here from Ready.Gov. Also, ATMs and credit card readers will not always be available, so have some cash on hand to pay for immediate expenses like lodging, food and gas. Include bills in small denominations of $1, $5 and $10. 

Tip 2: Make a Disaster Preparedness Plan 

Have the “disaster” conversation at home and talk about what your emergency plan is. Discuss how to evacuate and where you will meet. It is important to create, practice, and maintain your plan. Your plan should include people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, such as children, elderly individuals, and pets. Pick an “out-of-state” contact for family members to call if separated by disaster. Do a home-hazard hunt. Check for anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire. Secure all home hazards and prepare a disaster supply kit. Have enough food, water, and medical supplies for at least 7 days. The suggested amount of water is one gallon per day, per person (this includes children and pets).

Tip 3: Organize Your Neighborhood

Disasters can overwhelm 9-1-1 emergency responders like medics, fire, and police. In case of emergency, your best source of help may be your neighbors. This is particularly true during “The Golden Hour.” The first 60 minutes following a disaster are golden – for saving lives and reducing the severity of injuries and decreasing property damage. In the City of Los Angeles, the Ready Your Los Angeles Neighborhood (RYLAN) is designed to help your neighborhood prepare for a disaster by creating a neighborhood disaster response plan. Check with your local city or county offices to learn about disaster plans. Mapping your neighborhood, knowing your neighbors, and having a neighborhood disaster response plan are crucial for communities to be resilient after a disastrous event.

Tip 4: Connect & Communicate 

Log in to your Nextdoor neighborhood and sign up to receive Urgent Alerts on your Mobile Alerts Settings. Signing up for Nextdoor’s Urgent Alerts gives you up-to-date information and specific instructions on what to do during a disaster from your police, fire, and/or emergency service departments. Some cities may not have Nextdoor alerts, but do have an emergency notification alert system, such as Los Angeles’ www.notifyla.org. Contact your local agencies to learn more. Additional resources include your regional FEMA department, the State Office of Emergency Services, your County’s Office of Emergency Management, and the American Red Cross, amongst others. Communicate with your neighbors! Both you and your neighbors will want to communicate with each other and the city responders during a disaster. Walkie-talkies, crank radios, and communication apps are great tools to stay connected.

Tip 5: Practice and Train 

Practice your family and community disaster plans. Your confidence as responders will increase the more you practice. Enroll in preparedness training classes such as level 1 CERT, First Aid & CPR, Amateur Radio, Active Shooter, Stop the Bleed, and other classes to enhance your readiness skills. The more you practice and train, the better prepared you will become! FEMA and Ready.Gov make it easy to create a plan. Your local city, county, and state websites, such as emergency.lacity.org/rylan, have tips on making a plan for you, your family, and community.

The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department (EMD) recommends that neighbors everywhere prepare, organize, practice, connect, communicate, and train. Hopefully these five tips will help prepare you, your family, and neighbors be more prepared should an emergency or natural disaster occur in your community. You can never be too prepared, so take the initiative during National Preparedness Month and start communicating with your neighbors about how to prepare for both everyday emergencies as well as the unexpected in your community.


Special thanks to Jackie Koci Tamayo from the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department for contributing these potentially life-saving tips. 

12 Comments

  • Have you ever noticed how Erratically BIRDS FLY>>When they Sense a STORM Is Brewing ?? THEY ARE all for Warning Others TO Prepare. I wonder..DO they Route Their Family and Friends Where to FIND a safe Location ?? Or DO they JUST Pray that the STORM Will Roll on by..AND Leave them all UNScathed ?>>Isn`t that What most of US humans DO ? Do they ALL Pray ?? SOMETIMES, this IS all we can do..AND Sometimes it suffices. WE Must thank GOD for every DAY That we live…for Too many Do not LIVE thru The Disasters that Come to us..

  • Our evacuation plan for Ft Mill, SC, Tega Cay, and surrounding areas was put in place of 35 years ago by Catawba Nuclear Plant. This was when population was just several thousand, now it has grown to close to 20,000 people and still growing. Our current evacuation plans calls for us to go to a facility up past North Charlotte, NC….we would kill each other trying to evacuate. Catawba Nuclear needs to update their evacuation plan to keep up with the dense population in the area. I imagine 75% of residents in surrounding area do not even know the evacuation plan…this place would just be total chaos. Folks would not even be to get out of driveways be cause of traffic. People need a plan.

  • In the Pacific Northwest, we always prepared for whatever in October. In the south, Northerners still follow this practice. Southerners do not do this much. Wrap your faucet. Water and food storage. Camping equipment. Medical supplies. Don’t forget your cell phone charger.

  • We are fortunate to have a preparedness group in Chino Valley. Check out Yavapai County Preparedness Team. We are learning about all these topics and more, and meeting great people in our community. Pages on MeWe.com and Facebook for details.

  • Calling all NDN in Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Marlton area we are looking for block & building captains to put together emergency preparedness plans for our blocks & neighborhood. Yes we know it’s all on line, but we want to put it into practice. Please send me PM. Post or text if you’re interested in leading the way. It’s deeper then batteries & bottled water. Who will u depend on in an emergency? 323 383 3141

  • Hi,
    We are Smart for Life SoCal. Our cookies are a great choice for all emergency meal backup, and they are a great source of protein and vitamins and more importantly they have a long shelf life. We can give group discounts. Call us at 310-623-1999, text okay too!
    Also, please remember to have plenty of water.

    “It’s better to be safe than sorry”

  • There is a free class offered in many cities called Community Emergency Response Training. I highly recommend it! I took it through Southern NV CERT in 2017. We are our own first responders, as we have seen time and again on the news. People die every year trying to help each other. It’s smarter to get trained ahead of time to learn safer ways of doing so. Free training and the free notebook full of information are awesome. Learn how to best help yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your community by taking this class.

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