Emergency Preparedness Resources

As expats, we are able to enjoy the lifestyle offered by the West Coast landscape, but we should never ignore the potential risks posed by natural disasters. Long time expat residents will remember the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, which displaced thousands of people in the Bay Area and caused massive amounts of property damage. More recently, wildfires have devastated communities, businesses, and displaced thousands of residents.

Regardless of whether you have been directly impacted by recent events, we can all benefit from investing time in being well-prepared for potential future emergencies. From help with making an evacuation plan to advice on keeping copies of vital documents, the following resources offer sound advice for anyone living in California.

Since the spring of 2020, the CDC has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.

  • Sign up to receive local public safety alerts via You can opt to receive public safety messages on your mobile phone, in addition to your home phone if you have one.
  • Keep emergency preparedness supplies at home, including drinking water, first aid supplies, tools, sanitation supplies and canned foods. This list from Ready.GOV covers an extensive range of preparedness items to store at home, and information on how to treat water.
  • Order a preparedness supply kit online, which will cover many of the basics like food, flashlights and a first aid kit. But an off-the-shelf kit alone is no substitute for doing some research, understanding potential issues and having an evacuation plan for your household as well as your workplace.
  • In addition to having preparedness supplies at home, it’s important to have a “grab and go” box or bag ready in case you have to evacuate your home. This list from San Francisco’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, and other reputable organizations, contains items you should have ready to take with you–With Covid19 in mind– including medications, a portable cellphone battery pack and copies of identification.
  • Having copies of your identification documents and other paperwork is particularly important if you’re an expat. This list from financial website The Motley Fool goes into greater detail on the kind of financial paperwork that you should consider compiling, along with a reminder that your “grab and go” box is something you should be small enough that it’s easy to transport.
  • For further reading, you may wish to visit the California Department of Public Health’s Be Prepared California portal, which includes information on subjects like talking to children about crisis events and developing a family disaster plan. Additionally, PG&E offers an extensive list of additional resource to help you prepare.

At the British Benevolent Society, we consider the well-being of Brits living in the Western US to be paramount to our mission. By being well-prepared ourselves, we are in a better position to help our friends, family and community, should we be called upon to respond to a natural disaster. We encourage you to to take the time to plan and be prepared.

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