Prepare NorCal: Disaster Preparedness Resources

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Prepare NorCal: Emergency Resources
The Bay Area region is highly vulnerable to natural hazards. Here are some resources and tips to make it easier to access preparedness information.


The San Francisco Bay Area is a region that is highly vulnerable to natural hazards like earthquakes, wildfires, and severe weather. Communities across the Bay Area are now bracing for potential downpours, flooding, mudslides and more as a result of the strong El Nino impact we are experiencing this winter.

ABC7 has gathered resources and tips to make it easier for you to access preparedness information all in one place.


Experts believe that the Northern California area is one of the most seismically active areas of the state. The overall probability of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake striking the Greater Bay Area in the next 30 years is 63 percent.

RELATED: Prepare to survive and recover from California's next damaging earthquake

Unfortunately, most residents are not prepared to protect their families, homes and finances. Preparing now will help you survive and recover and get back to normal after the next damaging earthquake.

CEA's new alliance with the American Red Cross can help you take simple steps to be ready when the time comes-- We're in this together, Northern California, so get prepared! Here are the simple steps you can take:

Get a kit
Make a plan
Be informed
Consider earthquake insurance
Practice how to drop, cover and hold on
Secure your home's structure and contents


Keep basic supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate. Start building your kit with this detailed list of supplies and make sure you have the Red Cross Earthquake Safety Checklist.

The CDC recommends supplies include:

  • Drugs and medications you are prescribed: make sure to have any drugs or medications you may be taking somewhere that is easy to access, or keep some extra in your earthquake bag
  • First aid kit with bandages
  • Knife, rope, and other tools
  • Sturdy shoes and other safety/comfort items
  • Water and nonperishable foods
  • Flashlight


Identify out-of-area emergency contacts. Decide where to reunite with loved ones after a disaster in case phone lines are down. Write your plan on an emergency contact card and store in your phone along with important numbers for emergency resources in your area. Use the tips in this guide or in this guide to start making your plan!


Discuss how to prepare and safely respond to the emergencies most likely to happen where you live, work and play. Make sure know how the notification systems in your area work.


Most residential insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage - a separate earthquake policy is required. Without earthquake insurance to help cover the costs of repairs and other expenses that come with catastrophic damage, you will pay out-of-pocket to fix your home, to replace your personal property, and to live and eat elsewhere. The California Earthquake Authority is a publicly managed, privately funded organization that provides catastrophe residential earthquake insurance and encourages Californians to reduce their risk of earthquake loss.

Why CEA? Five reasons to buy:

If your home suffers catastrophic earthquake damage, the CEA can provide you with the strength to rebuild. With nearly $10 billion in claim-paying power, supported by the service expertise of its participating insurance companies, the CEA could cover all of its claims if the 1906 San Francisco, 1989 Loma Prieta, or 1994 Northridge earthquake reoccurred today.

Excellent financial ratings. CEA's financial strength is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company (a company that rates insurance companies).

Expert service. CEA policies are available exclusively through CEA's participating insurance companies, which handle CEA-policy applications, renewals, billing, and claims.

Rates based on science, not profit. By law, CEA rates must allow it to remain financially sound and to pay all its covered claims. CEA rates are based on the best available science for assessing earthquake risk and do not include any amount for profit.

Not tied to government budgets. California's budget issues have no impact on the CEA's ability to pay its claims, because the CEA is a privately financed entity and receives no money through the state budget.

Without earthquake insurance, the cost of any damage is your cost. If your CEA policy claim exceeds your deductible, you don't actually have to pay the deductible before claim-payment eligibility is triggered.

Read more about CEA earthquake insurance policies and premiums and to see a list of insurance companies that sell CEA earthquake insurance.


During an earthquake, know how to drop to the ground, take cover under sturdy furniture, and hold on to that furniture until after the shaking stops. Learn about Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, annual opportunities to practice what to do during an earthquake.


Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation. Bolt and brace water heaters, gas appliances, bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs. Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sleep or sit. Brace overhead light fixtures. Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets - store heavy items closest to floor.

Be sure to take a look at the following websites, which are included to help you prepare now so you can survive and recover after the next damaging earthquake.

California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)

Emergency preparedness means being prepared for whatever may happen. Find out about the threats and hazards in your area.

California Earthquake Authority

Get peace of mind. Earthquake insurance is more affordable than you think. Contact a California Earthquake Authority agent for a quote or to arrange a visit.

California Geological Survey

Earthquake Country Alliance

Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Great California ShakeOut

Learn what to do during an earthquake and join millions of people who will Drop, Cover, and Hold On during the Great California ShakeOut.

Southern California Earthquake Center

A helicopter flies through smoke from the Rocky Fire that's burning in Lake County, Calif. on Monday, August 3, 2015.
Wayne Freedman/KGO-TV


On August 6, 2012, a fire burning at a refinery in Richmond prompted shelter-in-place orders for Richmond, North Richmond, and San Pablo. Make sure you know what shelter-in-place means!

The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now. (Sources: U.S. Fire Administration - FEMA, Red Cross Bay Area)


Do you feel prepared for a major fire? If not, here are some tips to help you get started:


Find two ways out of each room in your home and know your neighborhood evacuation routes. Designate an emergency meeting location outside the fire/hazard area and determine an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. (Sources: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, SFFD)


Keep items that catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot and stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Create Defensible Space: Defensible Space is the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass and weeds. This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home. (Sources:, NFPA website, NFPA PDF)


If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the ground and ROLL over and over to smother the flames. Remove all burned clothing. If clothing adheres to skin, cut or tear around burned area. Call 9-1-1 from a safe location. If you are trapped in a burning building, stay near a window and close to the floor. If possible, signal for help.

(Sources:, CDC,


Get out - leave your home as quickly and safely as possible. Make sure to check door handles with the back of your hand before opening a door. If it is hot, look for an alternate escape route. Go to your designated meeting place. Call the fire department from a neighbor's house or a cell phone once you're safely outside. (Sources: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, USFA FEMA, NFPA website, NFPA PDF)


Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Don't wait to be ordered by authorities to leave. Evacuating early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets them move more freely to do their job. In an intense wildfire, they will not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don't hesitate! (Source:


Plan several travel route options in case one route is blocked by the fire or by emergency vehicles and equipment. For more information on preparing your family, pets and property for wildfire, see the Ready for Wildfire "Are You Set?" brochure. Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate. Text SHELTER your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area. (Sources: CALFIRE,


Natural gas leaks can cause an explosive and flammable atmosphere inside a building. If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a leak, shut off the main valve and open all windows and doors. Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak. Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances. Identify the main shutoff valve, located on the gas line coming into the main gas meter. To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the lever crosses the direction of the pipe the gas is off. (Sources:


Home Depot and Kidde are proud partners with ABC7's Prepare NorCal initiative and our Operation 7: Save A Life program. Through a series of fire and carbon monoxide safety messages, Kidde and ABC7 work to increase public awareness about fire and carbon monoxide safety.


Emergency preparedness requires attention not just to specific types of hazards but also to steps that increase preparedness for any type of disaster. It is unlikely that emergency response services will be able to immediately respond to everyone's needs after a major disaster, so it is important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. Plan and be ready to act on your own for at least the first 72 hours. (Sources:, Cal EMA, CDC,



Identify two meeting places after a disaster, an out-of-area phone contact, and escape routes out of your home and neighborhood. For chemical spills, airborne illnesses or biological hazards, be prepared to Shelter-in-Place if needed. (Sources: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter,,


Have a supply of water (one gallon per person/per day), food and personal items for all members of your household (minimum of three days up to two weeks recommended). Have a flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, and a well-stocked first aid kit. Alternatively, the American Red Cross and other companies sell pre-made supply kits of various sizes to make preparedness simple. Prepare kits for your home, workplace, and car. (Sources: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter,, CDC)


Family, friends and neighbors are often the true first responders after a disaster. First check yourself for injuries then assist others based on your level of first aid training. Only call emergency systems if there is a life-threatening situation. Volunteers will play a crucial role in recovery efforts -- get involved. (Sources: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter,, Cal OES)


Turn off and unplug appliances and computers. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored. Avoid using candles, as they are fire hazards. Do not use a gas stove for heating or operate generators indoors (including the garage.) Both could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If a traffic signal is not working, treat it as a stop sign. PG&E: (800) 743-5000 or (Source:


Cordless phones rely on electricity which may be unavailable after a disaster. Be sure to have a standard landline phone on hand. Also, text messaging on mobile phones might be best if lines are jammed. CHILDREN: Teach them to dial their home telephone number and Emergency 9-1-1. Role-play with children on what to say when calling Emergency 9-1-1. (Source: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter)


Mass transit systems may be vulnerable to both accidents and terrorist incidents. Mass transit customers should be aware and vigilant. Be well informed and know your surroundings. (Source:


It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of an evacuation, so plan ahead. Prepare a list of family members, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians and pet-friendly hotels to shelter your pets in an emergency. (Sources: American Red Cross,


211 Bay Area

During a disaster, 211 provides critical information about evacuation routes, food and shelter, as well as job search and permanent housing support during long-term recovery. 211 is an easy to remember, toll-free phone number that connect callers with local community services, such as food, shelter, counseling, employment assistance, quality child care and more. 211 is confidential and available 24 hours a day in more than 150 languages. Problem dialing 211? Call: 800-273-6222 (TTY 415-808-4440 or 711)


Twitter: @211sfbayarea


In a major disaster, it might be several days before vital services are restored. Find out how you can prepare yourself and your family for an emergency. You can also learn what to do in response to a specific disaster.


AlertSF is a text-based notification system for San Francisco's residents and visitors. AlertSF will send alerts regarding emergencies disrupting vehicular/pedestrian traffic, watches and warnings for tsunamis, flooding, and Citywide post-disaster information to your registered wireless devices and email accounts.


Twitter: @alertsf

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and keep people safe every day thanks to caring people who support our work.


Twitter: @RedCross


American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region

Empowering people in the San Francisco Bay Area to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. Lists options to obtain training in first aid, CPR, AED, lifeguarding, swimming and babysitting in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Twitter: @RedCrossNorCal


Bay Area Earthquake Alliance

The Bay Area Earthquake Alliance coordinates earthquake awareness and preparedness activities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The Alliance is a part of the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA), a statewide alliance linking organizations and individuals that provide earthquake information and services.



BayPrep - Fritz Institute

Fritz Institute's BayPrep (formerly the Bay Area Preparedness Initiative) seeks to improve disaster preparedness in the San Francisco Bay Area and ensure that vulnerable communities have been taken into account in disaster planning.



CAL FIRE wants to help prepare residents and their home for the possibility of a wildfire, how to prepare, and when to evacuate.


Twitter: @CAL_FIRE


CDC - CDC Emergency Preparedness & Response Site

The CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response website is CDC's primary source of information and resources for preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.


Twitter: @CDCgov


Phone: (800) CDC-INFO

TTY: (888) 232-6348

CEA - California Earthquake Authority

The CEA is committed to reducing injury, loss of life and property damage from earthquakes by motivating Californians to properly prepare themselves and their residences.


CERT - Community Emergency Response Teams

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

Website: provides information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster.


Drop! Cover! Hold On!

Protect Yourself. Spread the Word


CGS - California Geological Survey

Providing information and advice to protect life and property from natural hazards and to promote a better understanding of California's diverse geologic environment.


Statewide "alliance of alliances" linking the public information efforts of organizations and individuals that provide earthquake information and services.


FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, education, and references.

Phone (800) 621-FEMA/ TTY (800) 462-7585


Twitter: @fema


It takes all of us to help keep communities healthy during flu season. Through education and planning, you can help protect your community from the seasonal flu.


NERT - San Francisco Fire Department Neighborhood Emergency Response Team

A community based training program dedicated to a neighbor-helping-neighbor approach.


Twitter: @SFFDNERT

NFPA - National Fire Protection Agency

The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA, established in 1896, is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.


Twitter: @NFPA


NOAA's National Weather Service

NWS serves as the U.S. official voice for issuing warnings during life-threatening weather situations.


Twitter: @NWS

OES - California Office of Emergency Services

Protecting lives and property by effectively preparing for, preventing, responding to, and recovering from all threats, crimes, hazards, and emergencies.


Prepare - The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter

Developing an effective network to build collaboration and interaction among and within sectors to prepare and respond to pandemic and other large scale emergencies within the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.


Emergency preparedness guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, lists and explains specific threats and response.

Phone 1(800) 480-2520


Twitter: @ReadydotGov


Resilient SF

Our City& Ready For Anything. ResilientSF advances San Francisco's overall resilience by providing a framework, and road map, that coordinates plans, programs, resources and relationships that increase the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to collectively solve problems and capture opportunities.

Address 1011 Turk Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone (415) 558-3800


Twitter: @ResilientBay


San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SF DEM)

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) manages disaster preparation, mitigation, and response; 9-1-1 dispatch; and homeland security grant distribution for the City and County of San Francisco. During an emergency, activates and manages the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), coordinates public information at the Joint Information Center (JIC), manages resource allocation and mutual aid, and liaisons with federal, state, regional, local, and private sector partners.

Address 1011 Turk Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone (415) 558-3800


Twitter: @SF_emergency


San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services

A little preparation can make a big difference in an emergency situation. Find out more

and get checklists to help you get ready at home, at work, and in your community.

Phone: (650) 363-4790


ShakeOut - Get Ready to ShakeOut!

California is considered at higher risk of earthquake hazards compared to the rest of the country. The ShakeOut has been created to help people and organizations get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to be protected when they happen.


Twitter: @ShakeOut


Sparky the Fire Dog

Sparky teaches about fire safety, including escape routes, and smoke alarms. Features games and coloring pages. It's a great resource for children and teaching kids about fire safety.


United Way of the Bay Area

United Way of the Bay Area is harnessing creativity, expertise, and philanthropy to cut poverty.


Twitter: @Bay_Area_UW


USGS - U.S. Geological Survey

Federal source for science about the Earth, its natural and living resources, natural hazards, and the environment.

Phone: (650) 853-8300


Twitter: @USGS



American Red Cross: Mobile Apps

Use the Red Cross mobile apps to get expert first aid tips, prepare for disasters, volunteer, find shelter, teach your child to swim, and take care of your pet in an emergency.

iphone, Android, and Amazon


The FEMA App contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster, and the FEMA blog.

iPhone app

Android app


Instant safety, security, and peace of mind. Take care of everything from getting back your lost stuff to tracking your family.

iPhone app

Android app


Waze is a free social mobile app that enables drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation for an optimal commute.

iPhone app

Android app

Windows Mobile, Symbian and other devices