The Cambrian

Checklist helps you prepare for El Niño, storm emergencies

Various emergency and other agencies provide lists of how to prepare for storm-related emergencies. This list may look daunting, but you’ve probably already covered most of the items. If not, tackle them one at a time, but do it soon.

Some of these tips are from the Cambria Fire Safe Focus Group, which has added El Niño preparedness to its subject roster:

▪ Review the family emergency plan you prepared in case of wildfire. Didn’t do it then? Do it now.

▪ Clean gutters, maintain trees and check/repair your roof.

▪ Keep your vehicles gassed up and serviced.

▪ Learn how to turn off your water, gas and electrical connections.

▪ A “go bag” will be useful for staying in place or evacuating. Be sure to include enough medications for at least 72 hours. Include spare eyeglasses and car keys, changes of clothes and shoes to replace those that get wet and several large trash bags to cover you and your stuff. Add an extra set of charging cords for your electronic devices. As longtime Cambria landscaper Mike Rice advises, “plan as if you’re going camping.”

▪ Keep hard-soled shoes or slippers close to your bed. If a falling tree or earthquake should break a mirror or window nearby, your feet could be cut when you get up in the dark.

▪ Have lots of batteries on hand for flashlights, camp lanterns and portable radios. Don’t use gas-powered outdoor equipment or generators inside. Don’t use candles, as you can’t leave them unattended and they tip over easily.

▪ Stock up on emergency foods. Canned goods are excellent for the short term, and can be eaten cold, but make sure you have a manual can opener. Power bars are good for the very short term.

▪ Stockpile several gallons of drinking water per person, enough for several days. Keep a container of drinking water in the cupboard.

▪ Plug an old-style, touch-tone landline phone and cord into a wall jack. (This may not work with Charter and other computer phone lines). Old rotary-style phones won’t work; you will need touch-tone to access the PG&E outage line, for example.

▪ Have nonelectrical entertainment (books, card games, board games, etc.) for when electronic devices run out of juice.

▪ Generators are useful, but not always affordable. If you have or will get one, be sure to flip the house master switch before turning on a generator. You don’t want to electrocute linemen working on what they think is a dead line. Be sure the generator is at least 20 feet from doors, windows and vents. Make sure the generator has been serviced and is working. Keep extra canisters of fuel for the generator, but store the fuel someplace with good air circulation — not necessarily the garage.

▪ Can’t afford a generator? Buy an inverter that plugs into your vehicle to power some medical and other equipment.

▪ Remember that opening refrigerator or freezer doors too often may hasten food’s thawing and/or spoiling.

▪ Freeze water in plastic containers to put into the refrigerator to help keep food cold during a power outage.

▪ Solar-powered emergency radios are great, but battery-powered ones will work well, assuming you have enough batteries.

▪ Keep cash on hand for possible retail purchases if ATMs and credit-card machines are inoperable.

▪ Stock up on first-aid supplies, blankets, toilet paper and (if able to use it) a small personal heater. Fleece blankets are relatively cheap for extra warmth. Do not use gas or kerosene heaters inside.

▪ Secure or put away any items that high winds could toss through windows, vehicles or power lines. Assume all downed lines are “hot” or energized, and stay away from them. If they’re sitting in water, stay out of the water. If the lines are on your vehicle, stay inside it. If you step outside, you could become the conduit between the lines and the ground.

In future editions, The Cambrian will offer tips about emergency pet care, and what to do during and after a major storm, including if a tree hits your house.

For more details, go ahead of time to:,, and other informational websites.