Disaster Preparedness – Protecting Those We Love

by California State PTA Vice President for Health & Community Concerns, Derby Pattengill

We recently highlighted September’s National Preparedness Month, a great reason to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” 

In California, we certainly have had our share of emergencies this year. In our mission to positively impact the lives of children and youth, the Health and Community Concerns commission of the California State PTA have gathered for you a number of helpful resources to help prepare for a potential wildfire, earthquake, flood or any of the other natural disasters that can take place in our state.  

If you are located in an area of California where earthquakes are prevalent, your school can take part in International ShakeOut Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of October. California schools should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake and the Great ShakeOut is a perfect time to plan a one-minute earthquake drill. Learn more about the Great ShakeOut and how to participate here.

In addition, here are four key steps in preparing for a disaster or emergency:

  1. Learn your risks and responses. Stay informed. Here are two great resources: California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Ready Campaign
  2. Make a plan.  It is important to make a family emergency plan that can be put into action as soon as disaster strikes.  Make sure to include plans for children, seniors, disabled, and don’t forget pets! Here are some links to plans for wildfires, earthquakes, excessive heat and floods.
  3. Build a supply kit. A supply kit is a must when planning for potential disasters. You need to make sure you and your family have the necessary food and supplies to sustain you until the power returns or help arrives.  It is also important to keep the kit maintained by keeping food/water fresh and supplies working properly.  It is typically best to store the kit, along with any pet supplies, in a closet or the basement. Here is a Recommended Supplies List.

Get involved. Find opportunities to support community preparedness. There are many ways to get involved before disaster strikes.  So, ask yourself, “How can I help?” Well, here are some links.   Citizen Corps, Community Emergency Response Team, Red Cross, Neighborhood Watch, Fire Corps.