Los Angeles may be the entertainment capital of the world, but it’s also prone to natural disasters and crime—which is why it’s important to be prepared for a range of emergencies if you reside in or are visiting the City of Angels. The good news, when it comes to Los Angeles emergency preparedness, is that there is an abundance of resources available. From alerts and notifications to training courses and ready-made kits, you can be ready when disaster strikes.
Register for Alerts
The first thing that every LA resident should do is register for emergency alerts. It’s easy and quick to do and could save your life. In most cases, you’ll only receive a notification when an emergency affects people living in your area, so you don’t need to worry about receiving too many text messages or voicemails.
In addition to signing up for notifications, you can also check the news sites and channels that are used to communicate essential local information:
- The City of Los Angeles website
- The City’s cable channel 35 (LA CityView)
- AM radio: KNX 1070 AM for regional emergency alert information for the Los Angeles County area
In addition to ensuring that you’ll be notified, sharpening up your disaster preparedness skills can help you remain calm, stay safe, and assist others in an emergency. To help LA residents prepare, the Los Angeles Fire Department Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) provides free courses with over 17 hours of emergency preparedness training. To make CERT training accessible, the classes run Monday to Friday with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available.
The nature of an emergency is that you never know when it will strike. That’s why it’s important for every family and individual to take time out to create a plan and gather emergency supplies while they can.
An excellent starting point is the LA Emergency Survival Guide (English, Spanish), which provides step-by-step information about preparing for emergencies that are specific to Los Angeles County.
Profuse bleeding and sudden cardiac arrest can kill in minutes if immediate assistance is not provided, so preparing for these emergencies should be at the top of LA residents’ list. Preparedness for medical emergencies includes knowledge, skills, and some basic equipment.
Active Shooter Response Readiness
Gun violence in Los Angeles is up 8% in 2022 compared to 2021, including murders as well as armed robberies. Even if a shot doesn’t reach the heart, bleeding from gunshot wounds can kill the victim quickly if the bleeding is not stopped.
If you or someone near you is shot, having a bleeding control kit on hand could be the difference between life and death. Learning basic skills such as using a tourniquet and applying a pressure bandage will give you more confidence when treating a wound.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system of the heart malfunctions and the heart only quivers rather than beats. For every minute without chest compressions and defibrillation, the victim’s chance of survival drops by around 10%.
To be prepared to treat SCA, learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (traditional or hands-only CPR) and find out the locations of your nearest public access automated external defibrillators (AEDs)—usually a hospital, police station, fitness club, or school.
Aside from crime and medical emergencies, the geographical area in which Los Angeles County is located is susceptible to several kinds of natural disasters:
- Extreme temperatures
- Wind storms
In case you need to evacuate, the Los Angeles Survival Guide recommends packing these 10 essential items:
- Emergency supply kit
- Out-of-state contact list
- Cash and credit cards
- Important documents
- Social security card
- Driver’s license
- Medical card and medical records
- Insurance information
- A change of clothing for each family member
- Personal hygiene items
- Family photos
- Baby items:
- Special needs items:
- Hearing aids
- Spare batteries
- Pet care items
- ID and vaccination records
- Cage or carrier
- Muzzle and leash
- Water and food
Usually, you’ll have at least a few minutes to gather these items before you need to leave. However, it’s a good idea to keep the checklist on your fridge and have things like important documents ready in an easily-accessible place so you can simply grab the document folder and go.
Disaster-Specific Prep for Southern California
The phrase to remember for earthquake safety is “drop, cover, and hold on.” If an earthquake warning is issued, secure any items that could fall and get to high ground if you’re anywhere near the coast as a tsunami could follow. Once the earthquake hits, get under a strong table or drop down against an interior wall and cover your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and hold tight until the earthquake is over.
The Los Angeles Fire Department receives a 9-1-1 call every 35 seconds, and in wildfire season, your preparedness efforts can give the fire department a fighting chance. Besides preparing a disaster kit and having your evacuation checklist on the fridge, you can help with controlled brush clearing on your land, identifying access and escape routes, helping others with special access needs in your community prepare, and supporting one of your local fire stations financially to assist with the purchase of hand tools.
Floods usually don’t happen suddenly. There will be warning signs such as heavy rainfall, flood watch alerts, and flood warnings. If a flood is likely, disconnect electrical devices and turn off the power at the fuse. Move valuables to a higher level, put your documents in waterproof bags, and get to higher ground (not an attic, as you could get trapped). Before flooding season, make password-protected digital copies of all of your important documents, clear out the drains, and make a disaster survival kit with enough food, drinking water, and medications to last for 10 days.
Acts of Terrorism
Terrorist attacks often involve bombing but can also involve chemical or biological agents. The Department of Homeland Security website has information about things that are being done at a national level to protect US citizens from terrorism. In the event of a terrorist threat, residents will be notified via television, radio, and print media. Be sure to follow all instructions that authorities provide to keep yourself and your community safe.
Connect with Your Community
In an emergency, neighbors are often the first ones on the scene. That’s why it’s essential to get to know the people in your community and develop emergency plans and procedures together. The City of Los Angeles is divided into eight Disaster Management Areas (DMAs). To get disaster-ready, find out which DMA you are in and work together with other organizations, neighbors, and residents with specific access challenges (such as age, disability, pregnancy, and language) to prepare for natural, medical, and civil emergencies.
Prepare Now So You Can Help Others When the Time Comes
Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time, but by preparing for the most common kinds of emergencies that happen in Los Angeles, you can come out of the other end in much better shape and assist others around you as well.
Remember, if you are notified of an impending disaster, prepare yourself and your family and make sure that your neighbors got the notification and know what they need to do.