Public safety campaign aims to get SLO County ready for disasters

With the goal of making San Luis Obispo County the most emergency-prepared county in the nation, Sheriff Ian Parkinson on Monday unveiled a new public safety campaign.

The campaign will feature a series of public safety advertisements, more funding for the 211 information line and the purchase of five emergency trailers to be deployed to various parts of the county. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. donated $75,000 to help fund the effort.

“An earthquake, tsunami, flood or fire could happen here on the Central Coast, and it’s important for everyone to be prepared for disaster,” Parkinson said.

The public service announcements will air on television and radio and appear in print. They include appearances by local mayors and use humor to drive home the point that everyone needs to know what to do in the event of a disaster.

Among other messages, the ads will encourage every home to have a disaster kit and an evacuation plan. They will also aim to increase awareness of the danger of tsunamis along the coast.

According to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Rob Lewin, the impetus for the campaign was the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Damage was minimal in San Luis Obispo County, but more than 1,000 people were evacuated as a precaution.

A subsequent grand jury report recommended that emergency volunteers need to be better organized. In January, Parkinson established a task force on public safety with the aim of raising safety awareness and increasing collaboration among public officials, law enforcement agencies and cities.