aturday is San Mateo County’s Disaster Preparedness Day. Depending upon your predilections, it may not sound like a day at the beach, but then again the next disaster isn’t likely to be much fun either.
Preparing for the unthinkable is just a prerequisite of modern life, particularly here on the California coast, where we are one phone alert away from calamitous earthquake, tsunami waves or ruinous wildfire. In fact, some of the planning we do now, the skills we can learn, may well come in handy for less disastrous, but no less worrisome, future certainties like sea level rise, rising temperatures and drought.
The event is meant for the entire family and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive in San Mateo. It’s the 18th such gathering of the preparers and the prepared, which just goes to show our concern about pending trouble is not a new development.
There will be plenty to do. You can sign up to give blood — which is important year-round even without an emergency. Would you know what to do if you came upon someone who was bleeding badly? Find out on Saturday. Learn about the Citizens Emergency Response Teams that are active across the coast and throughout the Peninsula. You might just be inspired to join them.
All of us should know CPR and what to do in the event someone we love — or for that matter, a complete stranger — should suddenly experience trouble breathing. Saturday is the ideal time to learn.
Event organizers recognize that including the kids in such planning is important too. From the time they can walk and talk, they need to be able to identify first responders as friends and to know what they should do in an emergency. That is why there will be so much for them to see and do on Saturday, from visiting with firefighters and stepping up into fire trucks to sitting in a LifeFlight helicopter.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Saturday’s offerings at the Event Center is the load of resources available in one place at one time. You can find your evacuation zone and sign up for SMC Alerts and so much more.
Still not convinced this is how you want to spend your precious Saturday? Consider a single threat. The USGS says there is a 72 percent chance of a 6.7 quake in the San Francisco area in the next 30 years. (That is a much higher likelihood than in the Los Angeles area, by the way.) There is a 1 in 5 chance of a 7.5 earthquake here in the next three decades. That would be catastrophic and likely strain public services and first responders to the breaking point. We would likely be on our own for a time.
None of us want to think about how to stop a bleed or how to evacuate our homes. We can’t consider them simply “unthinkable.” The only way to ensure a good outcome is to think about them now, when the pressure is off and all the answers are at hand.
— Clay Lambert