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Local efforts aim to prepare residents for emergencies

September is designated National Preparedness Month, presenting the ideal time to take a few moments to consider the safety of your home, family and neighbors in the event of disaster. Following are some tips to get you started.

Be ready to go

As evident with recent wildfires, disasters can happen at any time and may escalate rapidly. Be ready to leave your home quickly, and map a couple of evacuation routes to reach safety.

Each household should be prepared with enough supplies to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Make or update a “go bag” with basic supplies, important papers and communication devices. For a list of what to include, visit

The next time you go to the store, remember to buy a couple of extra gallons of drinking water to add to your emergency supply stock.

Make sure you can exit your home safely

Ensure that all family members have a pair of shoes and a working flashlight next to their bed. This will help everyone get out of the house safely if a disaster strikes when it’s dark or there’s broken glass on the floor.

Help prevent injuries during an earthquake by removing and securing heavy wall hangings and furniture located above the sleeping space of each family member and pet.

Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area (like hallways) and on every level of your home – and remember to test them monthly.

Make a contact plan

Communication networks could be unreliable during disasters and power may be disrupted. A family communication plan will ensure that each member of your household knows how to reach one another and where to meet up in an emergency.

Make sure that your family communication plan includes an out-of-state contact person your family members know to call to check in if local phone lines are overwhelmed, as well as a designated meeting place or a way to connect if phones don’t work. For a template, visit

Register for alerts

AlertSCC is a free, easy and confidential way for anyone who lives or works in Santa Clara County to receive emergency warnings sent directly to a cellphone, mobile device, email or landline. Both the city of Los Altos and Santa Clara County will use AlertSCC to send emergency notifications to Los Altos residents. To sign up, text your ZIP code to 888-777. You may sign up for multiple ZIP codes if you wish; to do so, be sure to send a separate text for each ZIP code. To register online, visit


Emergency preparedness volunteers, city staff and the Santa Clara County Fire Department help Los Altos residents prepare for an emergency.

The Los Altos PREPARES program coordinates emergency preparedness efforts between the city and volunteers.

A new class of Community Emergency Response Team volunteers will graduate Saturday.

The mission of volunteer Block Action Team (BAT) leaders is to help their neighborhoods “connect, care and prepare.” To sign up for the next BAT leader training class Oct. 16, visit To check a map to see if your neighborhood already has a BAT in place, visit

To learn more about emergency preparedness, volunteer opportunities and classes in Los Altos, visit

Ann Hepenstal is community emergency preparedness coordinator for the city of Los Altos.

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