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Ready to survive the apocalypse?

Locals prepare in case of natural disasters, emergencies
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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While a zombie apocalypse probably isn’t on the horizon for Placer County, residents should be well-prepared for surviving other natural disasters and emergencies according to the Placer County Office of Emergency Services. Many locals have followed those recommendations and say they feel safer knowing that they have stocked up in case of the unpredictable. “The biggest threats are wildfires and probably power outages and then flooding,” said Richard Simmons, Placer County Emergency Services program manager. “Every fireman knows when they go to fire academy the first phrase they learn is, ‘This is going to be one hell of a fire season.’ This year that could really prove true.” Simmons said it is important that Sierra Foothills residents educate themselves on risks in the region and prepare accordingly. In the event that emergency crews can’t get to homes right away, having an emergency kit could be the difference between life and death. The Office of Emergency Services strives to teach residents a key factor in survival. “Self-reliance, this is the west for goodness sake.” Simmons said. “The thing we really try to stress is the individual’s responsibility. Make sure you have enough to survive three days on your own with no help.” Joyce Wilson of Applegate has taken that message to heart and hopes other locals will too. “How could anything be more important than for families here to be prepared for a disaster or for anywhere in the world for that matter?” Wilson said. She has prepared an emergency bag full of essentials, as well as created a supply of staples in her home. “I’ve done some things,” Wilson said. “I have a go-bag. I have copied over important papers, clean water and flashlights. I also have a designated out-of-state person to call in case of emergency. “ Wilson said her staples include copies of prescription drugs and food that she switches out regularly. With the more remote area she resides in, Wilson said it is even more critical she be able to survive without outside help. Todd Holladay of Auburn said he has stocked up on about six months worth of food in case of a power-grid outage or major disaster. “Every month I just stock up a little bit more and more,” Holladay said. “Once you prepare physically, you are prepared mentally. If this ever happens, I won’t be shocked.” Holladay also said he has a garden and water filter in the event that the comforts of modern technology no longer work. He said that people need to think about how many aspects of life would be impacted by the loss of power. “It would bring us back to the 18th century. You have to be prepared to live that kind of life,” Holladay said. “A lot of people have generators and some gas because that will keep your fridge going for a couple of days.” Weapons, ammunition, a transistor radio and cash are also potentially good items for people to have in their reserves, according to Holladay. Carl Schultz, public information officer for the Sierra Foothills Amateur Radio Club, said Ham Radios have also been critical to providing communication in emergencies. The club helps emergency groups like the American Red Cross and Cal Fire in the event that regular communication lines have failed or are unavailable. “During the 49er Fire, the older one that came through about 15 years ago,” Schultz said. “Flames came down near Ruff and Ready and burned the repeater at the electric company. Another ham (radio user) and myself took our spare repeater, put it up on Bald Mountain and restored communication to them. We were supporting Cal Fire.” Schultz said local ham radio groups also help operate an emergency communication van for the American Red Cross. Trista Jensen, communications director for the American Red Cross Capital Region Chapter, said there are three keys to being Red Cross Ready in the event of an emergency. They are to create a kit of essential items, make a plan in case you have to evacuate your home or town and be informed about what disasters are most likely in your area. Jensen said Red Cross guidelines advise residents have enough food and water to survive for three days. Being certified in CPR and first aid is also useful in the event of an emergency. “I think whatever helps people feel safe is what they should do. Within about three days the emergency officials will be able to get to you wherever you are,” Jensen said. “We encourage people to get connected. Don’t wait for the disaster to happen to figure out how you are going to get information.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ The Placer County Office of Emergency Services advises residents have these essentials on hand in case of a disaster or emergency. For more information and an expanded list of items, visit http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/CEO/Emergency.aspx Essentials Food and water Water purification kit, or household chlorine bleach and eye-dropper Learn CPR and emergency first aid Flashlights and extra batteries Portable radio A list of all battery-powered devices you plan to use and the type of battery each need, and a stock of the right sorts of batteries. (Alkaline batteries will hold their charge longer than rechargeable batteries.) Matches (include some waterproof matches) First aid kit Infant needs (diapers, bottle liners, extra formula) Food, water, leashes or cages for pets Non-electric can opener, utility knife, matches (in a waterproof container), aluminum foil (better than dirtying pans) Contact lenses and solution, denture needs, extra eyeglasses Essential medications Needles, thread Cash and change For more advice and information on preparing for an emergency from the American Red Cross, visit redcrosscrc.org, or call the American Red Cross Auburn office, (530) 885-9392.