Emergency Preparedness

Personal Preparedness

Why Prepare?

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Each disaster has its own lasting effects on families and property. They can happen anytime, anywhere, and almost always without warning. Preparing yourself and your loved ones can help reduce fear, anxiety, and will save lives during and after an event. Disasters will happen. Are you prepared?

Building Your Personal Kit

The first line of defense is your own preparedness efforts. Local emergency responders may not be able to assist you or your loved ones immediately following a disaster. Therefore, if is recommended that you be self-sufficient for at least 72-hours (3 days).

After considering the needs of your household and the disasters or emergencies that may occur in your area, you may wish to increase the inventory and extend the length of your home supply to 2-weeks.This may include water, food, sanitation, first aid, and shelter.

Be aware of the hazards in your area and know how to respond.

Remember, awareness and preparedness will save lives!

Calling 911

Do you know that 240 million people a year dial 911?

How about if almost half of those calls weren’t even necessary? And that is bad, because it keeps them from being able to respond to real emergencies.

If you are calling about a real emergency, the first thing is to stay as calm as you can. The are trained professionals use a series of questions to get you the right assistance in the shortest time...so just listen and answer. They might ask you more questions, so if you know the answers it’s really helpful. You could also be asked to describe someone’s symptoms, so get in there and do the best you can.

Even if you or someone else accidentally dials 911...don't hang up. The 911 Dispatcher might think you tried to call but couldn’t.

Remember, anytime you are not comfortable with a medical situation, you should call for help. By acting quickly, you may prevent a serious emergency and could save a life.

Building Your Personal Plan

Immediately after a disaster, there may be a brief or long term disruption in vital services such as running water, electricity, and communication sources.

Talk with your family about potential disasters that might affect your area and the importance of being prepared.

Involve all family members in identifying potential risks/hazards, evacuation routes out of your home and your neighborhood, and a meeting place to go to if you are separated.

Additionally, develop a communications plan on how you will communicate if members of your family are separated and who the point-of-contact will be. Your family may not be together when an emergency happens, so it is important to plan in advance how you will contact one another and how you will get back together.

Learn CPR

What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is given when someone's breathing or pulse stops. If both have stopped, then sudden death has occurred. Some of the causes of sudden death include poisoning, drowning, choking, suffocation, electrocution, or smoke inhalation. But, the most common cause of sudden death is from heart attack.

Despite the fact that CPR is proven to save lives — patient recovery rates are better when bystanders initiate resuscitation and there’s a greater likelihood of survival with less damage to heart muscles and the brain — studies suggest that less than one-third of people experiencing cardiac arrest outside of a medical center receive the help they need.

If you or someone you know has any of the above warning signs, act immediately. Call 911, or your local emergency number. If needed, give CPR if you are trained, or ask someone who is.

About hands-only CPR

When a person collapses suddenly and isn't breathing or has no pulse, bystanders are often reluctant to assist with CPR for fear of doing it wrong or making the situation worse. Because less than one-third of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive CPR before they get to the hospital, the American Heart Association is promoting hands-only CPR. The technique consists of 2 steps: call 911, then push hard and fast in the center of the victim's chest. Hands-only CPR can help a heart attack victim survive 3 to 5 minutes—possibly enough time until emergency medical services arrive.

Should I get CPR Training?

CPR certification means you have had the necessary training and practice and can comfortably do this lifesaving technique. Various organizations give excellent training programs in CPR, which helps to save thousands of lives each year, including the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care.  

About the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care

The UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, one of the leading emergency and prehospital academic center on the West Coast, offers a range of the American Heart Association's life support courses for health professionals and others whose job or personal commitments require certification in these life-saving cardiac arrest management and first aid techniques.

How to Stop Bleeding

Did you know that trauma is the fourth leading cause of death in America and bleeding is the #1 cause of preventable death following injury?

This, despite the fact that nearly anyone can control life threatening bleeding. All you need are your hands, and a little know-how.

In an emergency, get help. Call 911 or get another person to do so. Find the source of the bleeding and cover the wound with a cloth or an article of clothing and apply direct, steady, pressure with both hands until help arrives.

If the person is unconscious, lay them on their side with the wound up if possible.

Once the bleeding is under control, just make sure the injured person is breathing well and comfortable. If you can’t stop the bleeding with continuous direct pressure, you can apply a tourniquet.

Applying a tourniquet requires another person to help and should only be done as a last resort.

To learn more about additional hands-on training, visit the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care

Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness

If you are indoors:

  • Duck, Cover, and Hold;
  • Do NOT stand in doorways or run outside;
  • If you cannot get under a table or desk, stand next to an interior wall or inside corner of the building, drop and cover your neck and head with your arms. Use a doorway for shelter ONLY if it is in close proximity to you AND if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway;
  • If you are cooking, turn the stove off before you drop and cover;
  • If you are in bed, stay in bed and cover your head with your pillow.

If you are outdoors:

  • Stay there!
  • Move away from buildings, power lines, and utility poles;
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are on the coast, move to higher ground immediately.

If you are driving:

  • Do not stop in or under overpasses, bridges, or tunnels;
  • Do not stop under or near electrical power lines, light posts, trees, or signs;
  • Pull to the side of the road and set the emergency brake;
  • Stay in your car until the earthquake is over.

If you are trapped under debris:

  • Do NOT light a match;
  • Do not move around or kick up dust;
  • Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing or cloth;
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust;
  • Stay calm.
Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness


Each year, fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Living in Southern California, wildfires, residential and structural fires are part of everyday life. Understanding the hazards in and around your home, could potentially save your home and your family.

  • Check your smoke detectors in your home every few months.
  • Clear all dry brush around your home and comply with your local fire department requirements regarding brush clearance.
  • Before opening any door, feel the door to determine if it is hot. If it is not, open it cautiously and stand behind the door. Be prepared to close it quickly.
  • If ordered to evacuate, do not hesitate. Exit routes may be blocked as a result of a wildfire.
  • Know evacuation routes out of your home, and at least 2 routes out of your neighborhood.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in your home; particularly the kitchen.
  • Teach all family members how to use them.
  • Keep at least a ½ a tank of gas in your vehicle.

More tips on:

  • how to reduce fire hazards around your home
  • what to do in case of red flag weather conditions
  • what to do during a wildfire
  • what to do after a fire


Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom.

Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons.

General Safety Guidelines:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
  • Take precautions when traveling.
  • Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.
  • Do not accept packages from strangers.
  • Do not leave luggage unattended. You should promptly report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages, and strange devices to the police or security personnel.
  • When traveling internationally, do not use the "do not disturb" sign on your door as it indicates occupancy.
  • Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency.
  • Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on-electricity, telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet transactions.


Floods affect every state in the United States. Regardless of where you live, you should be informed on flood terms, signs, and understand what to do if you become affected by a flood.

Do you live in a flood prone area?

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

  • Be aware of flood terminology.
  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups.

Flood Terminology

These are commonly used flood terms that you should be aware of, in case you are in a flood-prone area.

  • Flood Watch
    Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Watch
    Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning
    Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning
    A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Disaster Preparedness

Everyone reacts differently following a disaster. Most reactions are considered normal and are temporary. Anticipating possible reactions, though, can help you successfully transition.

As you prepare to return home, consider these common reactions:

  • Irritability and anger
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to sleep
  • Sadness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increase in alcohol or drug consumption

Below are some strategies that may help you cope with the reactions:

  • Talk with someone about your feelings - anger, sorrow, and other emotions - even though it may be difficult.
  • Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
  • Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help directly in the rescue work.
  • Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, and meditation.
  • Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Use existing support groups of family, friends, and religious institutions.
  • Ensure you are ready for future events by restocking your disaster supplies kits and updating your family disaster plan. Doing these positive actions can be comforting.