SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday called on residents to prepare for a potential disaster as the height of this year's fire season approaches, and offered an incentive to do so.
The county and Target Corp. partnered to offer two-person tents to the first 2,000 people who registered to receive emergency information via AlertSanDiego and complete a plan through the "Pledge to Prepare" link on the county's website, readysandiego.org, Supervisor Dave Roberts said.
"You never know when a disaster could happen," Supervisor Dave Roberts said. "Once it does, you're behind the eight ball if you aren't prepared."
Roberts said residents should keep a three-day supply of necessary items. Supervisor Ron Roberts said residents should carry cash, and should keep their vehicles filled with a half-tank of gas because pumps could be inactive during an emergency.
Holly Crawford, director of the county's Office of Emergency Services, recommended residents keep defensible space around their homes, put together an emergency supply kit, make a plan and to stay informed.
"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when our next disaster will occur," Crawford said.
OES officials were also working to ensure those with access and functional needs would be prepared during an emergency, including sending notifications in the appropriate format to the deaf, blind and hard of hearing, Crawford said during a presentation at the board's morning meeting. Some messages are translated in American Sign Language and sent via video with text and audio components, she said.
County officials said that based on a 2010 census, nine percent of residents considered themselves to have a cognitive, ambulatory, hearing, vision or self-care disability.
"These are people that might not be able to speak for themselves. They might not be able to walk, to hear, to see, they may have special medical equipment needs," Supervisor Dave Roberts said. "Our goal is to equip them and their caregivers with the resources they need to prepare now for our next disaster."
Stasia Place, senior emergency services coordinator, said the county placed items at shelters, including larger and higher cots, wheelchairs and walkers, for those considered to have access and functional needs. A $50,000 grant will be used to purchase additional supplies, she said.
However, more could be done, she said, including training shelter workers on how to best care for those with special needs, and creating a disaster plan for caregivers. A caregiver training event is set for Nov. 16.
Crawford said county employees were trained to assist in shelters, answer informational phone lines and staff the county's emergency operations center. A childcare disaster plan was sent to the county's some 5,000 childcare providers, and county officials were working on ways to disseminate emergency information to non-English speakers.
Tony Young, CEO of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, said his organization's goal was to prepare a million people for the next disaster, to provide 200,000 meals a day and to be able to open 25 shelters.