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Disaster Preparedness – Better to be Safe than Sorry


With all the recent talk of El Nino and forecasters expecting record amounts of rainfall this winter, many of us have flooding (circa 1997) on our minds.

The summer of 2015 seemed to be one forest fire on top of another, and just one year ago, the Napa Valley was hit hard by a magnitude-6.0 earthquake, the largest in California’s Bay Area since Loma Prieta in 1989. Those topics combined with the recent anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have brought disaster preparedness to the forefront of our minds.

It’s no secret that as human beings, we tend to think “It won’t happen to me”; and we certainly hope it won’t. However, we’ve all been witness to the devastating effects of severe flooding, earthquakes, forest fires or hurricanes, etc..  So, when it comes to serious disasters, it’s critical to have a plan in place for calmly, and safely dealing with tragedy when it strikes. The following are simple steps everyone can take, which will make a huge difference.

Step One:  Determine Your Hazard(s)

Before you can plan for disaster, it’s important to know what your hazards are. For example, if you live in an earthquake prone area, you need to create your plan with that in mind.  The same is true if you live in or near a flood zone, or in a high brush area disposed to wild land fires.  Each unique hazard will have particular actions to follow before, during and after an event. For information on types of hazards, click here.

Step Two:  Create a Plan

Get together with your family and neighbors to discuss how to react & respond if a disaster strikes. Make decisions about where to meet, who to call, and where you’ll go next. Delegate responsibilities to each member of the family. Plan an evacuation route, not only from your house, but from your neighborhood or town, if necessary. To see more information about evacuation guidelines, visit

Step Three:  Gather Supplies

At the very least, have a well stocked first aid kit, water, food, blankets and extra clothing.  It’s important to think about where you plan to travel if you have to evacuate. Will you need extra gas in the car?  Do you need maps, extra cash, a radio or batteries, etc.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a comprehensive Emergency Supply List outlining necessary items for every person in your family, including pets.

Step Four:  Stay Informed

First and foremost, understand that disasters can strike in any place, and at any time.  Be aware of the tools available to help alert you in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.  You can receive important alerts on your wireless phone, via the radio, or even through social media. Click here to learn more about the systems already in place, to help you stay informed.

Additionally, the Red Cross offers a handy, printable flyer containing helpful information for every stage of planning.

Remember, it doesn’t mean you’re looking forward to Doomsday if you have a plan in place for responding in the event of a disaster – it simply means that you’re prepared.


Aniek Ramsay

Vice President, Branch Manager | Woodland