Natural and Man-Made Disaster Preparedness
510 N. Rosamond Blvd., Bldg. 4965
Types of Emergencies Found in Our Area
Earthquakes are the most common natural disaster to occur in Antelope Valley (AV) due to our proximity to two major fault lines; however, they are not our only threats of disaster. Other types of potential disasters await us in the form of fires, wind, snowstorms, flash floods, extended electrical outages, train derailments and chemical spills. These disasters can strike at any time, in any place and without any warning. The first 72 hours after an emergency you and your family may need to survive alone until help can arrive.
Numerous major disasters have occurred nearby within recent history. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake rattled through the AV and collapsed the Highway 14 and Interstate 5 overpass, eliminating our major transportation connection between the AV and Los Angeles. Two devastating wildfires occurred in 2009 and 2010; first, the Station Fire raged in the Angeles National Forest and later, the Crown Fire swept through the region from Agua Dulce to Quartz Hill. More recently, two large fires scorched over 38,000 acres each. The Sand Fire prompted 10,000 homes to be evacuated in Santa Clarita Valley mountain areas as it moved toward Acton, and the Blue Cut Fire destroyed close to a 100 homes in the Wrightwood area. High winds in October 2007 created dust storms, reducing visibility to zero, resulting in a multi-fatality pileup on Highway 14 at Avenue D. A daylong blizzard in December 2008 left thousands of commuters stranded on each side of the Soledad Pass between the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys.
Furthermore, we have experienced incidents of flash flooding from heavy rains following periods of drought; extended power outages from earthquakes, wind, fires, and summer and winter storms; train derailments along the Union Pacific lines; and chemical spills on our roadways. As recent as October 2015, we experienced heavy downpours, which caused a mudflow on State Route 58 west of Mojave. It covered the road with mud and debris up to 6-feet high and left nearly 200 vehicles stranded overnight.
The good news is that if you prepare for one of these potential disasters, you are prepared for any of them. Since planning ahead is the key to success, the Office of Emergency Management recommends you and your family take the following preparatory steps to survive the first three days after an emergency occurs.
DEVELOP A FAMILY PLAN
Decide now how each family member will contact each other if separated when disaster strikes; know phone numbers including out-of-state numbers.
• Know each other’s schedules and have a rally point.
• Watch and listen for official instructions on television, radio or other communication devices.
• Create a shelter-in-place plan; consider pre-cutting plastic sheeting to seal windows, doors and vents in the event of badly contaminated air.
• Create a get-away plan; choose several destinations in different directions and take your emergency supply kit.
• Know your school and work emergency plans; how will they communicate during emergencies?
DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools or service providers. Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse or wallet. If you complete your Family Emergency Communication Plan online at ready.gov/make-a-plan, you can print it onto a wallet-sized card. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board
Have regular household meetings to review and practice your plan. Your plan should include actions to take in preparation for your pets too. Talk to neighbors about how you can help one another. Go to www.ready.gov or www.beready.af.mil for helpful advice. Practice your plan! Practice your plan! Practice your plan!
Write down phone numbers and email addresses for everyone in your household. Having this important information written down will help you reconnect with others in case you don’t have your mobile device or computer with you or if the battery runs down. If you have a household member(s) who is deaf or hard of hearing, or who has a speech disability and uses traditional or video relay service (VRS), include information on how to connect through relay services on a landline phone, mobile device or computer.
School, childcare, caregiver and workplace emergency plans
Because a disaster can strike during school or work hours, you need to know their emergency response plans and how to stay informed. Discuss these plans with children, and let them know who could pick them up in an emergency. Make sure your household members with phones are signed up for alerts and warnings from their school, workplace and local government. For children without mobile phones, make sure they know to follow instructions from a responsible adult, such as a teacher or principal.
It is also important to identify someone outside of your community or state who can act as a central point of contact to help your household reconnect. In a disaster, it may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town because local phone lines can be jammed.
EMERGENCY MEETING PLACES
Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite. Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs. If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.
Identify the following places:
Indoor: If you live in an area where tornadoes, hurricanes or other high-wind storms can happen, make sure everyone knows where to go for protection. This could be a small, interior, windowless room, such as a closet or bathroom, on the lowest level of a sturdy building, or a tornado safe room or storm shelter.
In your neighborhood: This is a place in your neighborhood where your household members will meet if there is a fire or other emergency and you need to leave your home. The meeting place could be a big tree, a mailbox at the end of the driveway or a neighbor’s house.
Outside of your neighborhood: This is a place where your family will meet if a disaster happens when you’re not at home and you can’t get back to your home. This could be a library, community center, house of worship or family friend’s home.
Outside of your town or city: Having an out-of-town meeting place can help you reunite if a disaster happens and you cannot get home or to your out-of-neighborhood meeting place; or your family is not together and your community is instructed to evacuate the area. This meeting place could be the home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there
CREATE AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT
Recommended items to include in your basic emergency supply kit:
• Water: 1 gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
• Food: at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food.
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries.
• Flashlight and extra batteries.
• First aid kit.
• Whistle to signal for help.
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
• Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
• Local maps.
Additional items to consider adding to an emergency supply kit:
• Prescription medications and glasses.
• Infant formula and diapers.
• Pet food and extra water for your pet.
• Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
• Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
• Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
• Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing during the winter months.
• Household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper. When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
• Fire extinguisher.
• Matches in a waterproof container.
• Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
• Mess kits, paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, paper towels.
• Paper and pencil.
• Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.
Actions to Consider Before an Earthquake
Fasten shelves securely to walls. Store breakable items (bottled food, glass, china, etc.) in low, closed cabinets with latches. Hang heavy items (pictures, mirrors, etc.) away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit. Brace overhead light fixtures. Install flexible pipe fittings to minimize breakage of gas and water lines. Secure your water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor. Store flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches on the bottom shelves. Choose a safe place in every room (e.g., under a sturdy table or against an inside wall) where nothing can fall on you.
Actions to Consider During an Earthquake
If Indoors: Drop, cover and hold on. Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. If you are in a high-rise building, do not use the elevators. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture. If you are in bed, stay there. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow. If there is a heavy light fixture that could fall on you, move to the nearest safe place. Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and you know it is strongly supported and load-bearing.
If Outdoors: Move into the open, away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires. Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
If in a Vehicle: Stop as quickly and safely as possible and then remain in your vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped, watching for road and bridge damage.
If Trapped Under Debris: Do not light a match or lighter. Do not move about or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with fabric or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you or use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort — shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Actions to Consider After an Earthquake
Provide first aid and CPR if trained to do so. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake. They can cause further damage to weakened buildings so proceed with caution. Be aware that some earthquakes are foreshocks — a large earthquake might occur. Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves. Pets’ behavior may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard.
Stiff breezes and high winds are the norm at Edwards, and for those not used to living and working in a windy environment, there are often-overlooked dangers to keep in mind and be prepared for.
Vehicle Safety in Windy Conditions
• It is a good idea to hold on to your vehicle door when opening it because a quick gust of wind can catch the door and cause extensive damage.
• In dust or sandstorm situations, slow your speed to a safe driving speed and turn on headlights to make your vehicle more visible.
• Keep both hands on the wheel.
• Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes, as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel.
• Take extra care in high-profile vehicles, such as trucks, vans and SUVs, or when towing a trailer, as they are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high wind gusts.
• Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path.
• If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, pull over into a safe parking area (the shoulder of a busy roadway is not safe) and stop, making sure you are away from trees, power lines or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle.
KEY TO SUCCESSFUL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Planning ahead improves your chances of successfully surviving a natural or man-made disaster and minimizing stress to you and your family. The Emergency Management Branch is here to help you develop you and your family’s emergency preparedness plans. Please contact the branch if they can be of any assistance.