City of La Quinta:
This page provides you with guidance on how to start preparing yourself and your home for a disaster. Your review of the Threat page to our website should have made you realize that everyone living in the Coachella Valley needs to prepare for a disaster. Unfortunately, the most likely disaster is also the most potentially destructive: an earthquake. For that reason, most of the preparedness measures we recommend focus on earthquake preparedness and by following these measures, you will be better prepared for any type disaster.
We have chosen eight steps to help us get prepared. There are more things you can do but if you will get these eight done, you will have gotten a head start on preparedness. You can use the navigation buttons on the left side of each section to navigate between sections.
EIGHT STEPS TO EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
CREATE A DISASTER PLAN
Having a plan can help you and your housemates make it through any disaster with minimal stress. A comprehensive disaster plan includes information about each person in the home, household pets, insurance and finances, the home itself and its contents. Most important, the plan outlines what each resident should do during an emergency and identifies safe places inside and outside the home.
The University of Missouri Extension has created a disaster plan template to guide you through the development of a disaster plan for your home. (Trilogy’s Preparedness Committee has tailored it to reflect local conditions and realities). Creating a plan begins with a meeting of you and your housemates to discuss and decide how you will respond to a disaster. Use this template to guide the process. Click HERE to get the plan template, then save it to your computer.
ELECTRONIC FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
This disaster plan is designed to be filled out electronically. Download the file to your computer before filling in the plan to protect your personal information.
The plan also may be downloaded, printed and completed by hand.
Additional pages for family members, pets and household contents have been provided. If needed, those pages should be included with the completed plan.
KEEP PAPER COPIES
Creating an electronic document is convenient; however, it is essential to have paper copies of the plan available because electric and wireless services may be disrupted during an emergency. A copy of the plan should be stored with your disaster supply kit in the home. A second copy should be stored off-site with a relative or friend.
Families should review their disaster plan annually and update as necessary.
Handling Utilities in a Disaster
In the event of an accident or disaster, you may lose service of one or more of your utilities without warning. You may also want to shut them off yourself should there be a break or movement in one of the lines. First, however, you will need to know who is responsible for the various utilities you use so you can contact the proper agency for help. Having this information ahead of time will save time during an actual emergency. If you are in doubt about your utility service provider, check your recent utility bills for specific information.
All utility companies (and emergency numbers) can be found HERE.
At some point, perhaps due to a severe storm or other event, you may find it necessary to turn off the electricity to your home. If there is no immediate threat to your safety, and you can get to your circuit breaker box without walking through water, you can turn the power off yourself.
Familiarize yourself with the location of your circuit breaker box ahead of time and mark the master power switch so you can immediately identify which one to throw during an emergency to stop all power coming into your house.
Portable generators can be a big help if you are without power, but remember:
Connect appliances one at a time to the generator.
Never hook a generator directly to your household wiring yourself. Only a qualified electrician can do this safely.
Use generators outdoors only. They give off carbon monoxide fumes.
Avoid using extension cords with generators. If you must use them, check them often to make sure they have not become hot.
Very Important – Do not turn off your natural gas unless you smell gas leaking and you can’t find and stop the source of the leak. Gas appliances and pipes may be moved or broken during a flood, earthquake, or similar disaster. Even slight movement could cause a gas leak. If you suspect a leak or smell gas, leave your home immediately and call the gas company from a neighbor’s phone. Do not flip any light switches when you leave the house; leave the door open and shut off the gas at the meter. When you return to your home, have the gas company inspect and restore the service.
How to shut off your gas meter:
Your gas meter is located outside of your house, usually on the side of the structure near the gate to the backyard. There is a valve in the gas line next to the meter. The valve is a circular device that allows you to turn it to open or close it. The top of the valve is rectangular so that you can use a crescent wrench, pliers, or similar tool to turn it on and off. The shape also allows you to tell at a glance if the valve is in the on or off position. If the top of the valve is parallel to the gas pipe, then the gas is turned on and flowing through the valve. If the top of the valve is perpendicular to the gas pipe, it is in the off position. To be sure the gas is off, write down the number on all the dials on the meter. Check the dials at least 5 minutes later. If the numbers have changed, the valve is not closed. If the gas is still flowing, contact your gas provider for help and keep clear of the area until the gas has stopped flowing.
If you are unsure of the safety of your water supply after a disaster, use it only to clean your home or for sanitation purposes (toilet flushing). Buy bottled water for drinking if you can.
A “boil order” may be issued in your community during a disaster. If such an order has been issued, do the following:
Do not cook in pots and pans or use eating utensils, baby blankets, or any other items that could go into the mouth or be used to cook until they have been washed and disinfected in water that has been tested and approved by the water department or health department.
You should also familiarize yourself with the location of your inside and outside water cutoff valves. In an emergency where water purity could be a concern, you can shut off your main water valve to protect the water in your hot water heater from contamination and use it as a source of clean emergency drinking water.
Plan for Residents With Special Needs
Before a Disaster
Immediately After a Disaster
Plan for Pets
You should have the following items assembled and ready to take in a crisis (keep in a duffel bag or sturdy container, in a spot where it’s handy to grab):
Prepare: Make a Pet Disaster Kit
Immediately After a Disaster
Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit
Everyone should have personal disaster supplies kits. Keep them where you spend most of your time, so they can be reached even if your building is badly damaged. The kits will be useful for many emergencies.
Keep one kit in your home, another in your car, and a third kit at work. Backpacks or other small bags are best for your disaster supplies kits so you can take them with you if you evacuate. Include at least the following items:
Household Disaster Supplies Kit
Electrical, water, transportation, and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days or much longer in some places after a large earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals could be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. Providing first aid and having supplies will save lives, will make life more comfortable, and will help you cope after the next earthquake.
In addition to your personal disaster supplies kits, store a household disaster supplies kit in an easily accessible location (in a large watertight container that can be easily moved), with a supply of the following items to last at least 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks:
Use and replace perishable items like water, food, medications and batteries on a yearly basis.
Store your kit in a location that you can get to if your home is damaged. If you usually have a car in the garage, that may be a good place (watch the summer heat) since a car should provide protection for your kit if the garage should collapse.
When a disaster happens, one of two things happens to the phone system, (both land line and mobile): Either the phone system is also damaged by the disaster and will not function until repaired, or; the phone system is overloaded with people trying to find out what happened or people trying to tell others what happened.
When the local system becomes overloaded, it may be possible to call some one who is physically out of the local area so set up an “out of area” contact for your friends and family to call to find out what has happened to you. Then after a disaster happens and you find that you can’t make local calls, try calling your “out of area” contact and give them an update on your situation.
Make sure your family and friends know that this person will have information.
Do a Home Hazard Hunt
Identify potential hazards in your home and begin to fix them.
Several people died and thousands were injured in the Northridge earthquake because of unsecured building contents such as toppling bookcases. Many billions of dollars were lost due to this type of damage. Much of this damage and injury could have been prevented in advance through simple actions to secure buildings and contents.
You should secure anything…
1) heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you.
2) fragile and/or expensive enough to be a significant loss if it falls.
In addition to contents within your living space, also secure items in other areas, such as your garage, to reduce damage to vehicles or hazardous material spills.
There may be simple actions you can do right now that will protect you if an earthquake happens tomorrow. START NOW by moving furniture such as bookcases away from beds, sofas, or other places where people sit or sleep. Move heavy objects to lower shelves. Then begin to look for other items in your home that may be hazardous in an earthquake.
Some of the actions recommended on this page may take a bit longer to complete, but all are relatively simple. Most hardware stores and home centers now carry earthquake safety straps, fasteners, and adhesives.
In the kitchen
Unsecured cabinet doors fly open during earthquakes, allowing glassware and dishes to crash to the floor. Many types of latches are available to prevent this: child-proof latches, hook and eye latches, or positive catch latches designed for boats. Gas appliances should have flexible connectors to reduce the risk of fire. Secure refrigerators and other major appliances to walls using earthquake appliance straps.
Objects on open shelves and tabletops
Collectibles, pottery objects, and lamps can become deadly projectiles. Use either hook and loop fasteners on the table and object, or non-damaging adhesives such as earthquake putty, clear quake gel, or microcrystalline wax to secure breakables in place. Move heavy items and breakables to lower shelves.
Mirrors, framed pictures, and other objects should be hung from closed hooks so that they can’t bounce off the walls. Pictures and mirrors can also be secured at their corners with earthquake putty. Only soft art such as tapestries should be placed over beds or sofas.
Televisions, stereos, computers and microwaves and other electronics are heavy and costly to replace. They can be secured with flexible nylon straps and buckles for easy removal and relocation.
Secure the tops of all top-heavy furniture, such as bookcases and file cabinets, to a wall. Be sure to anchor to the stud, and not just to the drywall. Flexible fasteners such as nylon straps allow tall objects to sway without falling over, reducing the strain on the studs. Loose shelving can also be secured by applying earthquake putty on each corner bracket.
In the garage or utility room
Items stored in garages and utility rooms can fall, causing injuries, damage, and hazardous spills or leaks. They can also block access to vehicles and exits. Move flammable or hazardous materials to lower shelves or the floor.