Disaster preparedness and emergency evacuations have grown in importance these days, after the March 2011 Japan tsunami hit local coastal areas, wildfires ravaged the state, and in the continuing face of a potential incident at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.
And San Luis Obispo County’s fire chiefs have redrawn evacuation zones for emergencies like these and others that might call for widespread evacuations to escape danger.
“Residents of San Luis Obispo County,” reads a news release from the County of San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services and the San Luis Obispo County Fire Chiefs Association, “are encouraged to ‘know your evacuation zone’ as part of the launch of a countywide evacuation planning project.”
The new evacuation zones “will assist first responders in rapidly determining evacuation areas during an emergency and allow the public to easily identify if they are in an area under an Evacuation Warning, Evacuation Order or other protective actions.”
Residents can save time in an emergency and potentially avoid unnecessary panic when they know the zone they live in. “Go to ReadySLO.org/evaczone” the release said, “and enter your address in the evacuation zone tool. The tool will tell you your zone name.”
The County recommends you write down your zone and put it someplace where it can be easily found in an emergency, such as on the refrigerator.
“Taking a minute to write down your evacuation zone could safe your life,” said County OES Manager Scott Jalbert, “knowing your zone in advance will save you valuable time during an emergency if you are told to evacuate.”
When there is an emergency that requires evacuations, emergency officials will use other methods to contact people for example the Reverse 9-1-1 and wireless emergency alerts, to get the word out. Knowing if an evacuation order or warning pertains to you is where the evacuation zones will come in handy.
“By knowing your evacuation zone in advance,” the release said, “you will be ready to respond as soon as your zone is identified.”
Also, readers are reminded to put together supplies in advance, such as “go bags” filled with essentials, like clothes, important papers, and food, to have at the ready in case one has to hustle to escape danger.
It should be noted that these evacuation zones are different from the evacuation zones that were established to respond in cases of emergency dealing with the nuclear plant. The County said those evacuation zones are much larger and the new emergency zones dealing with things like tsunamis, are smaller and more focused.
The County OES got a grant from the FireSafe Council and worked with the Fire Chiefs Association to put the program together. Visit: www.readyforwildfire.org