By Lisa Bartlett, OC Supervisors Chairperson
Southern California got a wake-up call on Fourth of July, and again on July 5, when 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes rattled though our neighborhoods. The epicenter was around Ridgecrest in Kern County, and they were the largest quakes to hit California in nearly 20 years. The tremors could be felt in areas as far as Phoenix and Mexicali, Mexico. The damage was so intense that a crack in the earth’s crust can be seen from space. Some small surrounding cities went for a week without access to basic utilities such as electricity and water. So, the question is, are you prepared for the next one?
There are a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves when preparing for a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a wildfire. Do you have an emergency kit ready? If there is no cellphone service, is there a means of communication you need to contact your loved ones? Do you have a family emergency plan? Incidents such as the quakes on Independence Day ignite our interest and alertness, which is an unexpected benefit of natural disasters.
The County of Orange is always looking for ways to engage our residents with options and suggestions of how to best be prepared for any emergency. Using innovative technology and data, the County of Orange has created two products for our residents to use in disaster situations: ReadyOC and AlertOC.
ReadyOC.org is an online resource for information on how to prepare for a disaster, what to expect when disaster strikes, and information related to the risks facing Orange County. On the site, you can create and order your own emergency kit, make a thorough plan following a step-by-step guide, and even sign up to volunteer as a member of the Citizen Corps, where you will learn training skills and local emergency planning measures to help in any possible situation.
AlertOC.org is a countywide mass notification system designed to keep Orange County residents and businesses informed of emergencies as they develop. During an emergency, AlertOC will have the most up-to-date information on safe locations, hazards to avoid, and emergency responses. Sign up online to receive these up-to-date notifications.
If the recent quakes are not enough of a reminder, we are now entering into another wildfire season in California. The difference between life and death in a disaster can come down to minutes, and both ReadyOC and AlertOC aim to lessen the possible negative outcomes of an emergency situation. We need to be prepared and focused on a plan for ourselves, our families, and our community, so we can minimize the devastation and impact to our day-to-day lives and the community.
As many of you know, I, along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Fire Authority, and the City of Mission Viejo, always host an annual South County Emergency Preparedness Expo. This year, the 12th annual event will be on Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m at Norman P. Murray Community Center. This free, family-friendly event will feature information on preparedness and emergency services from our community experts. Stay connected by signing up for my weekly newsletter for more details to be announced.
We are very fortunate to live in such a vibrant region but that does not make us immune to disasters. By creating an emergency plan that fits you and your family’s needs, you are helping the community remain resilient and safe.
Lisa Bartlett is the chairperson of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, serving as the representative of the 5th District. She was re-elected in 2018.