Pack your emergency kit — before the next ‘event’

By Kathy Day
Staff Writer

When the lights went out last week, were you ready?

Shoppers nearly cleared the water shelves at Vons in La Jolla during the Sept. 8 blackout, a sign that many weren't stocked up at home. Photo: Chuck Buck

A lot of people, from homeowners to business owners, initially stood around thinking, “The power will be back in a little while so I’ll just hang tight.” But when reality set in and people figured out that it wouldn’t be, many jumped in their cars and headed home from work only to find out they weren’t moving very fast, their kids were stuck at school or maybe that they were very low on gas.

Then when some got home and realized they didn’t have any ice or batteries on hand, out they went, back into the traffic hoping to find a store open. Others treated the event as an experience, meeting neighbors they hadn’t talked to before, having family board game nights or gazing at the stars that weren’t dimmed by artificial lights.

Meanwhile, emergency responders to city and county workers dealt with the bigger picture of handling the immediate issues. Even Councilwoman Sherri Lightner and her staff stepped up, coming the aid of a woman stuck in a City Hall elevator. Later she used Facebook to get information out to anyone who had a smartphone or computer with enough battery power and working Internet connections.

As SDG&E and other officials try to sort out how one person’s mistake could cause a ripple effect that hit 1.4 million people, closing schools and some businesses into the next day, County Supervisor Bill Horn perhaps summed up the lesson to be learned: Work on your preparedness plans for whatever disaster may strike.

During a press conference with Mayor Jerry Sanders and SDG&E President Michael Niggli last Friday, Horn thanked area residents for their calm demeanor in the face of the blackout, but urged them to get ready for the next disaster.

The basics are pretty simple as outlined on a number of websites from county’s site to the American Red Cross, the lists are many and varied. But they all urge having on hand at least a three-day supply of food, water — one gallon per person per day — and a flashlight and batteries. Other items includes a first aid kit, a whistle, a wrench or pliers, maps, sanitary items, and cell phone and chargers or backup batteries. A battery-powered or crank radio is also a high priority.

Those are the basics in case of possible evacuation, but for the eventuality that you may have to stay at home, supplies should be stocked for two weeks.

Some who have been through the fires that burned through San Diego in 2003 and 2007 — both in October — now keep “go bags” filled with clothes and other essentials like medicine and baby and dog food, and toys and games for the kids.

But having “stuff” is only part of the preparation. Know where your important documents and insurance papers are, have a plan for reconnecting family members and be sure everyone has alternate ways of making contact.

Sign up for alerts to be sent to your cell phone or email address at (Landline numbers are already in the database.)

KPBS, which is teaming up with the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross for an event this Saturday, is part of a statewide informational campaign called “Totally Unprepared” to draw attention to the need to be ready for the next “big” event. Learn more at

Good sources for information about or during an emergency:
KOGO radio AM600

Go get ready
• Preparedness Event
• 10 a.m. to noon Saturday
• KPBS/San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross
• The first 1,000 people will receive a free American Red Cross/Cal EMA safety tube or pet first aid kit.
• Booths offering additional information and a mobile Red Cross store where you can buy a 72-hour disaster kit.

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Posted by Kathy Day on Sep 14, 2011. Filed under La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Pack your emergency kit — before the next ‘event’”

  1. the great person

    good story

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