Paso Robles News|Saturday, September 21, 2019
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Be prepared for disasters 

Jim Fritsche

Jim Fritsche speaking to the Paso Robles Rotary Club.

If a disaster occurs, are you prepared to be “on your own” for 2 to 5 days? Do you have food and water available in case disaster strikes and you can’t get them? Jim Fritsche, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) leader in the North County posed those questions to members of the Paso Robles Rotary Club. He spoke to the group a week ago at its regular meeting at the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom.

Although insurance against damage from disasters may be available, there is no insurance for disasters unless people prepare for the inevitable, Fritsche said. Whether it is an earthquake, flooding, electrical outages, or fire, it is critical in those times to avoid panics and crowds, as many will be looking for life essentials. Those essentials include water (2 gal/day/person), shelter (even a tarp), energy (electric generator or source for heating), and food (long term storage items). And don’t forget your pets; they need water, food, and shelter, too.

The CERT program has two purposes: to be on call to assist professional emergency responders if requested, and for each CERT trained person to help others in their own neighborhood during emergencies if professional responders are not available. CERT volunteers are trained in the basics of emergency response. Fritsche and his CERT trainers help volunteers learn what they can do if professional responders are not available because of the nature, the breadth, or accessibility to the emergency situation.

Fritsche said that being self-sufficient for a few days will require life essentials and it will require planning and communicating: where to meet if roads are cut off, who to call out-of-state who can be the focal point for the family, understanding that cell phone availability may be limited or not available. It also requires the resident know how to turn off natural gas (only if they smell gas), how to turn off electrical power, and how to turn off water if there is leakage.

From a good sense perspective, it should become habit to keep vehicles fueled when they reach ½ tank or, worst case, ¼ tank. Finding gas for vehicles becomes problematic with road closures, loss of electrical power, and lack of resupply to gas stations. Having some cash for emergencies can prove critical when credit card machines are not usable.

CERT training is available in the North County several times per year to help residents prepare for self-sufficiency in emergency situations. For more info: www.northslococert.org

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.