Be aware of scammers posing as Water Company Employees calling about an unpaid water bill. Water Company Employees will not call you demanding payment for a water bill nor will they ask for a credit card number and security code for payment of a water bill over the phone.
Emergencies can be frightening and chaotic and make it difficult to find all the things you need to ride out the situation. It is always best to prepare in advance. Emergency preparedness experts recommend gathering important items in a backpack or duffle bag that you can get too easily. Here are a few ideas for things you should consider putting in your home emergency kit:
Photocopies of important records (credit and ID cards, deeds, property records, insurance policies, home inventory)
A small amount of cash or traveler’s checks
Medical necessities (medication, wheelchair and hearing-aid batteries, contact lens solution, etc.)
Supplies for your pets (food, a leash or container, veterinary records)
Food and water for at least three days (including pet supplies). A good rule of thumb for water is one gallon per day per person.
Cooking necessities (a can opener, paper plates, and plastic utensils)
Portable, battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
First-aid kit and instruction book
Pliers or wrench to turn off utilities
Sanitation and personal hygiene items (moist towelettes, toilet paper, feminine supplies, garbage bags)
Keep your supplies (particularly food) in air-tight plastic bags, and keep your complete emergency kit in one or two closeable, easily portable containers (such as a camping backpack, duffel bag, ice chest, or unused trash can with a lid). The kit should be stored in a cool, dry place that will be easily accessible in an emergency.
Review your emergency kit at least once per year. Make sure that everything is still fresh and in working order, and update it if your family needs have changed.
Emergency supplies are important, but sometimes a little knowledge is more valuable than anything you might have in your emergency kit. Here are a few tips for making sure your “knowledge kit” in order.
What types of disasters can strike your home. Flooding, earthquakes, mudslides or fires are common in Southern California.
Learn the danger signs. How can you tell when storm drains are overflowing, or if a fire is close enough to endanger your home?
Learn first aid, CPR, and how to operate a fire extinguisher.
Talk to the experts. Learn how to shut off your gas and electricity. Because building standards vary, you should consult an expert to find out what action to take in your home.
Develop a plan of action. Together with your family, decide what you would do if disaster struck. Make sure your plan includes escape routes and a means of staying in contact, and that everyone has all the information they need (where supplies are stored, how to shut off the gas, etc.).
After a disaster, if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, or if officials advise you of a water problem, you may want to shut off your water to prevent tainted water from getting into your home. Turning off your house valve also prevents a broken water line from draining your toilet tanks and hot water heater.
Note that the house valve is not the valve in the cement box by the street? That valve can only be turned off by the water company. The house valve is generally located outside your home near a hose bib.
Here are some tips for managing water in a disaster.
Never ration water unless authorities recommend doing so, and never drink less than a quart of water a day.
Don’t drink cloudy or otherwise contaminated water from a faucet, stream, or pond without treating it first, unless you are at risk of dehydration.
Don’t drink soda or alcohol instead of water.
To use the water in your pipes after your water is turned off, completely open the lowest faucet in your home and capture water as it trickles out.
To use the water in your hot-water tank, turn off the electricity and/or gas, open the drain at the bottom of the tank, turn off the water intake valve, and turn on the hot water faucet. Be sure to refill the tank before turning it back on.
You can also get drinkable water from melted ice, and liquids from canned goods.
Never drink water from radiators, hot water boilers, water beds, toilets, pools, or spas.