Planning for an emergency - Week 15

With summer vacations winding to an end and the concerts at the park nearly complete, it is a good time to get back to our emergency preparedness efforts. This week let's keep our work indoors and limit the work to simple gathering. We likely still have a few weeks of warm weather before the daytime temperatures will decrease to a comfortable level.Over the last few weeks members of the Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Downey CERT team have been staffing an information booth at the Wednesday concerts at Furman Park. The booth is open from 5-7 p.m., the music starts at 7 p.m. The volunteers have been passing out emergency preparedness literature and talking about emergency preparedness with as many community members as possible. Please consider stopping by, picking up some of the important information and saying hello. The last concert will be on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. The volunteers have also been encouraging everyone to visit the city website so they can 'opt-in' to the new emergency notification system ( It only takes a few minutes to supply your cell phone number and your e-mail address. The information you provide for the emergency notification system may really help when the system is activated. Downey business owners and employees may also want to 'opt-in' and include their workplace address. Keeping with the theme of easy and cool work, let's work on gathering a change of clothes for use after an emergency. Since we know earthquakes can occur at any time, it is appropriate to have a set of clothes we can take with us (or use) immediately. This change of clothes doesn't have to be anything special or stylish. To the contrary, the clothes should be useful and comfortable. Include the predictable accessories like under-clothes, jacket, hat and sturdy shoes, as well. Package the clothes in some type of bag or backpack. Plastic grocery bags may be readily available but they are not as useful. Remember, supplies will be difficult to find after an emergency. You may be forced to use everything you have prepared for an emergency (in many ways) until you have access to all of your possessions. A heavy-duty cloth bag or backpack has a myriad of uses. Be sure to stage a flashlight with your change of clothes. This action will ensure you have most everything you will need, immediately after an earthquake, in one place. Don't forget the flashlight batteries and keep some extras. While on the subject of batteries, have you remembered to purchase an extra set of batteries for all of your emergency preparedness devices? Many suggest it is best to standardize your flashlights and radios so they all use the same size batteries. In theory, this is a great idea. However, radios and flashlights may not always use the same size batteries. A hand-crank radio with a flashlight attachment is another way to be prepared. I tried to switch over from my Blackberry last week to one of the new touch-screen phones. It didn't work for me. I found my fingers could not get used to typing on a screen versus a keyboard. Worse yet, I learned my data would not easily transfer to the new device. Losing my contacts and having to spend the hours required to replicate them was something I didn't look forward to doing. Saving your electronic information may be critical to your recovery after an emergency. Determine if it is possible to back-up the 'contacts' on your phone. Consider backing-up your medical information and your prescriptions too. The importance of maintaining a paper copy of your household documents has been mentioned previously in this column. You may also want to make a digital recording of your valuables and storing it on the same thumb-drive used for your records. We plan to distribute emergency water barrels at the City Hall parking lot on Saturday, Aug. 28 from 9 a.m. until noon. Various water storage accessories like pumps and handles will be available for purchase as well. Stay safe and prepare yourself and your family for the predictable emergencies we may experience in our community. Questions or comments should be directed to Mark Sauter is a deputy city manager for the city of Downey, in charge of emergency preparedness.

********** Published: August 19, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 18