The National Weather Service has forecast above-normal precipitation in the Bay Area this winter, a reminder to check (or build) your emergency kit and review (or create) your evacuation plan.
“The time to prepare is now, not when the waters are rising and the winds are blowing,” said Shruti Dhapodkar, director of the County’s Department of Emergency Management.
“We know it can feel a bit overwhelming – yet another to-do list during the holiday season,” Dhapodkar said. “To make it a bit easier, we’ve created a simple step-by-step guide. It’s not much more complicated than figuring out what you would need if you and your family decided to hunker down at home for a few days.”
Sign up for SMC Alert.
SMC Alert is San Mateo County’s primary alert and warning system that can contact you by text, email or phone. Alerts may include life safety, fire, weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways or disaster notifications. Some cities or agencies operate their own alert systems. Search “emergency alerts (with your city or area).”
Check or build your emergency kit.
Keep flashlights, extra batteries and extra blankets handy, as well as a can opener, medicine, first aid supplies and a fire extinguisher. Also, stock up on nonperishable foods, such as dry cereal, nuts and protein bars. Try to stockpile at least one gallon of water per person a day for three days.
Ready.gov abounds with information in multiple languages, with tips on creating low-cost kits.
Know your zone and make an evacuation plan.
Public safety agencies throughout San Mateo County use Genasys (formerly known as Zonehaven) to communicate areas that are being evacuated due to fire or other emergencies.
Areas of the county are assigned a specific short code – a zone. All residents can enter an address to find their zone. These zones will be pushed out via emergency alerts, County social media platforms and the news media in the event of evacuation orders or other emergencies.
Steps you can take to prepare your home.
Before the rain starts falling, clean out gutters and downspouts. Turn off automatic watering systems.
If you live in a multi-family building, have a plan for how to evacuate and where to meet your loved ones. Learn your building’s layout and evacuation plan — most buildings post an evacuation plan in common areas that lead you to safety. Get to know multiple escape routes in case the closest one is blocked in an emergency.
If the power goes out, never heat your home with a camp stove, oven or charcoal-burning device.
When filled and stacked correctly, sandbags can redirect a low flow of coursing water away from your home, garage or garden. Various local agencies offer a limited number of free sandbags. Some offer free bags and sand and require you to fill it yourself.
County residents in unincorporated areas may pick up pre-made sandbags (limit 15) free of charge. Find out where to pick up sandbags, both in unincorporated areas and cities. To find out if you live in an unincorporated area, enter you address in the “Find Your District” search function.