Prepare for the worst

Locals learn what to do in a natural disaster

EMERGENCY PREPARATION David Soliday from the Community Emergency Response Team shows workshop attendee Natalie Morgan what to include in a personal emergency kit Tuesday night.

Natural disasters can happen at any time or any place. Residents in Texas, Louisiana and Florida know that first hand with the devastating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. San Benito County is no stranger to natural disasters. Massive flooding occurred earlier this year and the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the region in 1989.

Communities increase their chances of recovery if they are prepared before a natural disaster hits, according to San Benito County’s Emergency Services Specialist, Bryan LaSota, from the Office of Emergency Services.
“We do not have good fortune in California with a lot of our disasters, earthquakes being one of the biggest. We don’t get notification it’s coming,” LaSota said.

September is National Preparedness Month and the San Benito County agency hosted its first of two personal emergency preparedness workshops Tuesday night at the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office.  

Held in the upstairs conference room, the free workshop hosted nine attendees. Guests received a free 4-in-1 emergency tool, information on an upcoming amateur radio license class and the CodeRed Mobile Alert application.

LaSota said natural disasters that could hit San Benito County include earthquakes, floods, wildfires and tornadoes. He also shared how residents could prepare for a natural disaster.

One of LaSota’s top tips is to have a personal emergency kit at home, work and in the car. Emergency kits can be made or purchased online. Common items included in the kits are food and medicine, address books, manual can openers and chlorine bleach with a medicine dropper to disinfect water. Securing bulky items such as the water heater at home or items on your work desk, can prevent injury when a natural disaster strikes, he said.   

LaSota also urged people to make it a habit to keep the fuel level in their car above half a tank.

“Once the car hits a half a tank, fill it up, because a half a tank can get you somewhere,” he said. LaSota also suggested the public download the CodeRed app on their mobile phone since landlines receive emergency notification but mobile phones do not.  

Chief RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) Officer, Tim Takeuchi, spoke about the use of HAM radios in the case of an emergency and urged people to get their amateur radio license. The next class for those who want to pursue a license will be Saturday, September 23 at the San Benito Sheriff’s Office.

David Soliday, who spoke for the Community Emergency Response Team, recommended folks go through the training program for the emergency response team. Registration is free.

Kevin Bonvie, who heard about the workshop while getting his Amateur (HAM) Radio license understands the importance of emergency preparedness. He couldn’t think of a reason why he wouldn’t attend. “I have no excuses,” he said.

The next Personal Emergency Preparedness workshop will be on Monday, September 25 at the San Juan Community Center, 10 San Jose Street, in San Juan Bautista. The workshop will be from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. To register for the upcoming Amateur Radio License Testing Study and Exam Session, email [email protected].  

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