Many of us chose Tehachapi because of its unspoiled and rugged beauty. Those same reasons plus the remoteness of our mountain region require us to be prepared for disasters so we can be resilient, as in better able to recover.

It has been said for years that disasters are a matter of “if,” and not “when” it will affect your family. Our beautiful scenery and isolation could work against us in the face of a wildfire or local earthquake. Your Greater Tehachapi Valley Community Emergency Response Team offers four ways to meet these challenges before disaster strikes.

BE READY

The first thing the professionals say to do is put together your family’s disaster kit with the important paperwork, simple tools, flashlights, water, food, cash, etc. But how many of us have done this? Or have we updated them over time and as our needs change? FEMA’s ready.gov/kit offers a list for you to start with and then personalize for your current situation. Do you need items for a baby? Prescription medicines or eyeglasses? Items for animals, such as a trailer or kennel as well as their food, identification and medicines? Don’t forget a kit for your work and cars.

HAVE A PLAN

As important as having a kit is to have a plan of what to do, where to go, and how to communicate with those who need to know what’s happened. Communications will clog up fast after a disaster. Texting is typically the best way to get a message through. FEMA’s ready.gov/plan has a family emergency plan including communications plan templates and resources.

Kern County Fire has a sheet on planning for evacuations at kerncountyfire.org/emergency-preparedness-info/ready-set-go.html.

KNOW YOUR EVACUATION ROUTES

With homes spread out into the surrounding mountains, many of our roads could be lined up with evacuees. It only takes one car or trailer to become stuck to strand everyone behind them, eliminating that escape route. Check with your local district to learn the evacuation routes. The best chance of safeguarding yourself, family and animals of the danger is to evacuate early, before evacuations are announced, especially if additional time is needed.

As a reminder, keep your property’s weeds under control to reduce extreme fire hazards.

BE INFORMED

Kern County uses Ready Kern for geographically specific notifications across the County. Sign up at readykern.com.

Most of the communities in the region use Nixle for emergency notifications. Bear Valley Springs uses Code Red. Your community’s website has the signup information. CERT recommends you sign up for all the notifications because disasters don’t respect boundaries.

The Emergency Alert System in the County uses KUZZ 550 AM, KUZZ 107.9 FM, and KERO TV 23. Tune in to one of those stations for the latest announcements during a disaster.

A large part of being informed is to take training. The Greater Tehachapi Valley CERT offers training for everyday people like you to learn what to do before, during and after a disaster. Sign up for the training notifications at www.TehachapiCERT.com.

CONCLUSION

Planning for a disaster may not be exciting, but is one of the most important tasks for your family’s safety. The more you can prepare today, without stress, the better your chances of success are going to be.

This article was provided by the Greater Tehachapi Valley Community Emergency Response Team, which under the sponsorship of KCFD, is committed to helping prepare all of Tehachapi for disasters. Follow Tehachapi CERT on Facebook or visit www.TehachapiCERT.com.