This year’s Springs Fire in Ventura County and the Hillside House Fire in Sherman Oaks should serve as reminders to all our neighbors and friends that preparation and planning for emergencies is vitally important. Between unwrapping gifts, watching football and parades, now is a good time to develop a plan of action in the event of emergency or to review and make necessary changes to existing plans.

For our friends in the hills and others who have plants and shrubbery close to their homes, the next few months may be the time to consider trimming back the landscape that while lovely, may become a threat during fire season. This is because some plants and shrubs are susceptible to disease which could kill them if trimmed in warmer weather (personal experience here). Consult a gardener or better yet, an arborist if you are concerned.

If you have not already, start at home by taking inventory of your most important documents and records and save them to a Flash Drive or Disk that can be stored in a bank Safe Deposit Box and update that drive periodically as needed. Include photographs as well on the disk. Also, keep a copy of the drive or disk with you should you need to evacuate. You may need to have those records at the evacuation center or when dealing with FEMA or the Red Cross.

With your family, plan what to do in the advent of a fire, flood, earthquake or other emergency. Should you become separated is there a family member outside the emergency area that all of you can call and pass messages until you can reunite.

Back at home, ensure you have enough emergency supplies, including medicines and pet food, to last for at least three days to a week. Make sure all or a portion of your supplies are portable should you need to evacuate. Do the same with your office and discuss with your coworkers. An emergency kit in the car is always a good idea. Another good idea is to ensure you have a portable radio, flashlight, and batteries at each location. (By the way, storing these items on a high shelf is never a good idea as one of our staff personally found out during the Northridge Quake).

Our friends and colleagues at the Los Angeles Fire Department and the City Emergency Management Department have excellent websites offering pages and videos about Emergency Preparedness. EMD has a “Neighborhood Disaster Planning Video” on its Homepage: http://emergency.lacity.org.

In the advent of a catastrophe LAPD and LAFD may not be able to reach your location for several days making self-reliance and neighborhood planning that much more important. Many of our Los Angeles communities have organized Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to fill the void. If you are interested in CERT more information is available on the LAFD Website: http://lafd.org. We wish all of you a safe season and that the coming months be enjoyable.

For full details, view this message on the web.