Disasters can strike anywhere at any time. September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect opportunity to get ready for emergencies like wildfires and more.

“Southern California is prone to no-notice events like earthquakes and wildfires,” says Sean Mahoney, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Southern California Region, which includes San Diego. “Being prepared may not prevent a disaster, but it will give you confidence that you’ve taken the right steps to make sure you’re ready.”

Preparing during a pandemic adds another layer of elements to consider ahead of disasters, but three basic action steps remain the same for everyone: build a kit, make a plan and be informed. The Red Cross encourages individuals to make two kits of emergency supplies (a stay-at-home kit and an evacuation kit) and a one-month supply of prescription medication. In addition to non-perishable food, water, flashlights, first aid items, cash and other materials, kits should also include personal hygiene items, special items for children and pets, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings. Some supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now. A kit for your vehicle is also encouraged, in case disaster strikes while you are on the road.

Disasters like wildfires can force people to leave their homes, even in areas under stay-at-home mandates. By having an emergency plan, your family can react quickly if a disaster strikes:

Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them.

Check and see if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they do, make other arrangements.

Check with hotels and motels to see if they are open and if pets are allowed.

Due to the pandemic, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions, available resources and shelter facilities.

Learn first aid and CPR skills so you’ll know what to do until emergency help arrives.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for weather alerts and information on what to do before, during and after disasters.

Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at redcross.org/coronavirus.

For wildfire safety tips, visit redcross.org/wildfire.

Individuals can also find several resources on PrepareSanDiego.org, which has step-by-step preparedness information with downloadable checklists to build homemade emergency kits and links to buy ready-made kits. There are easily-accessed guidelines for making a family disaster plan and information on how to be prepared for and respond to potential emergencies that could happen in this region. Prepare San Diego, supported by San Diego Gas & Electric, is a regional resiliency initiative focused on individual, community and business preparedness efforts.

The Red Cross Southern California Region is also offering free virtual preparedness presentations throughout the month of September. All presentations are hosted by Red Cross disaster experts and are open to the public. Presentations will be hosted on Zoom.

For more information, visit redcross.org/prepare or download the free Red Cross Emergency App. Follow @SoCal_RedCross on Twitter for the latest disaster updates and more, including daily preparedness tips during the month of September as part of the Southern California Region’s 30 Days of Preparedness campaign.

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