Know What To Do In An Emergency In Malibu

by ritasimpson on January 26, 2014

in Community Information

Would you be prepared if disaster struck your home? Do you have the right supplies? Is your house set up to minimize damage? Preparing your home for emergencies won’t protect you from everything out there, but it will give you the peace of mind and help you be ready to face whatever may (or may not) come your way. A Community Emergency Response Team has a 7 week program to help residents be proactive and learn life saving skills.

The CERT program was developed in 1985 by the Los Angeles Fire Department to provide basic training to the general public in safety and lifesaving skills. This is to help provide service when first responders may not fully be able to meet the demand for their services.

 Classes cover disaster preparedness, fire suppression, light search/rescue, terrorism and team organization/disaster psychology. For more information, contact Brad Davis at 310.456.2489 ext. 260.

The Basics:

–Know what natural disasters and emergencies are most likely to happen in your area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies a fear-inducing list of more than 20 different types of disasters including: earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and volcanoes, plus more exotic scenarios like nuclear hazards, space weather and hazardous materials incidents. Check the FEMA website at http://fema.gov for a variety of maps showing where specific hazards are most prevalent.

–Set up two meeting spaces for your family to meet after a disaster. One should be just outside your home—a neighbor’s driveway, for example—for everyone to meet in case of fire. The other should be a spot outside the neighborhood, a safe distance from the house.

–Prepare an emergency kit and make sure everyone in the house knows where it is. Go through the kit annually to replace outdated items. According to the Red Cross, an emergency kit should include a two-week supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and non-perishable food. Other items to include: a flashlight, battery or hand-cranked radio, first aid kit, cash, and medication. Include disaster-specific items, as well as what you’ll need for pets, babies, small children, or seniors.

–Locate and learn how to use shut off valves or switches for gas, electricity, and water.

–Look over your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you’re properly covered. General homeowner’s insurance, for example, doesn’t offer flood coverage.

To Prepare For Specific Emergencies:

–Floods

Elevate furnace and water heater with cement blocks or wooden platform. Have an electrician move electrical wiring, sockets, switches and circuit breakers so they’re well off the ground. Seal walls in basement with waterproofing compound. Put a check valve in sewer traps so sewage doesn’t back up. Anchor fuel tanks so they don’t float and spill. Keep polyethylene film and rope on hand to wrap appliances in to keep silt out. Install backflow valves or plugs on drains and toilets. Protect basement appliances by surrounding them with a flood wall, a short (3ft tall or lower) watertight wall made of concrete or masonry blocks.

–Earthquakes

Identify a safe spot in each room, with a sturdy piece of furniture to duck under that’s away from windows or heavy things that might fall. Make sure electrical wires and gas lines are in good order and that fittings on all utility connections are flexible. Secure heavy appliances like water heaters, furnaces and refrigerators by bolting them to the wall. Make sure that the house is attached firmly to the foundation or have an expert assess for structural problems. Anchor shelves, picture frames, cabinets and top-heavy items to walls. Put heavy items on lower shelves and breakable items in securely closed cabinets. Flammable and dangerous household chemicals should also be on lower and/or locked shelves. Move heavy pieces of furniture away from beds and places where people sit. Strap down bulky electronic equipment like TVs and computers. The general rule for earthquake proofing is that if it could fall and hurt someone or create a hazard, it should be secured.

–Fire

Make sure you have working and charged smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor, close enough to bedrooms to wake up people who are sleeping. Supplement hard-wired models with battery-powered ones. Put easily accessible fire extinguishers on every floor of the house. Choose extinguishers that work on regular household fires as well as electrical and liquid fires, and teach everyone in the house how to operate. Assess the electrical system, making sure wires are in good repair and circuits aren’t overloaded. Ensure that all windows can be opened easily and are not painted shut and that security bars and screens on windows can be removed easily. Put fire escape ladders in each upper floor bedroom and make sure everyone in the house can operate. Keep flammable items at least three feet from heat sources like space heaters and stoves and make sure heaters have an automatic shut off feature. Get your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.

For more information on preparedness, contact FEMA and The Red Cross for emergency prep check lists, what to put into an emergency kit, and detailed information on specific disasters.

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