Dr. Ernest Levister
The recent La Tuna Canyon wildfire above Los Angeles fire burned 7,000 acres, forced nearly 1,400 people into temporary shelters and triggered a state of emergency. Similar wildfires in San Bernardino, Beaumont, and the Riverside foothills remind us that California’s fire season is now year-round.
The state’s fire season historically has been from late September (with the start of the Santa Ana winds) to just after Thanksgiving.
But even with the past rainy season’s gains, the previous five years of drought have left area mountain communities, foothills and grassy areas vulnerable.
In a disaster, local officials and relief workers cannot reach everyone immediately. Help may not arrive for hours or days. You and your family — and don't forget to include the needs of those with disabilities — need to be prepared ahead of time because you won't have time to shop or search for the supplies you will need when a disaster strikes.
Most natural disasters are the result of some force of nature, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Some disasters like wildfires are the cause of human actions, intentional or unintentional. A disaster plan will help with safety, security, and comfort.
• Discuss what to do in an evacuation. When told by officials, go immediately to a shelter as instructed or to the home of a friend or relative who lives out of the area. Find out about your local shelters beforehand.
• Know evacuation routes. Pre-establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.
• Family members can become separated during an emergency. Be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. • Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
Decide how to take care of pets. Pets are not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.
• Post emergency phone numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) by the phone.
• Purchase a readymade or assemble a family disaster supplies kit and keep a smaller one in the trunk of your vehicle.