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Los Angeles Firefighters Urge Storm Preparedness

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 |

With the arrival of seasonal rain, the Los Angeles Fire Department is encouraging local residents to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves from injury and their property from storm damage.

When rainstorms impact the Los Angeles area, flood control channels, rivers and arroyos can quickly fill with fast-moving water and debris, creating a potentially life-threatening danger to anyone who gets caught or swept away. It is against the law to be inside most flood control channels in Los Angeles, regardless of the weather.

We urge you to visit the EDIS website and listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio and television stations for weather information and emergency bulletins.

FLOOD PREVENTION AND STORM PREPAREDNESS TIPS:

  • Ensure that all drains, gutters and downspouts are functioning properly. This is especially important for flat-roofed buildings.
  • Keep ground-level drains and drainage areas (ditches, swales, small channels) free of debris.
  • Move valuable or easily damaged items away from low-lying areas that may be prone to flooding.
  • Establish household supplies (bucket, mop, towel and tarpaulin) to minimize damage from sudden leaks or stormwater seepage.
  • Identify and collect important documents that you may require in case of evacuation.
  • Contact your insurance agent to assure that your flood and storm coverage is adequate and in effect. Confirm the 24-hour contact, policy and claim numbers for your insurer(s). Place that information in your cell phone and keep a printed copy in the glove box of your car.
  • Review your Family Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Supply Kit that includes food, water, medications, flashlight, battery-powered radio, rain gear and first aid supplies.
  • Plan for the needs of pets at home and if you are evacuated.
  • Monitor local news for the status of streets, highways and transit systems.
  • Identify multiple safe routes from your home or workplace to high ground.
  • Check your car's wipers, lights, tire inflation and tread wear to assure safe operation, and keep your vehicle fueled in case power is cutoff to local fueling stations.
  • Be prepared to operate your vehicle safely or use public transit in conditions altered by weather.
  • Establish out-of-state family contacts so that friends and relatives can determine your location and status.
  • If necessary, consult an engineer or licensed contractor to design or build permanent water and debris control systems for your property.
  • Landscape slope areas with plants that are fire retardant and suitable for erosion control.
  • Keep sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, hand tools and other materials handy for addressing stormwater issues.
WHAT IF YOU NEED SANDBAGS?

TIPS FOR PERSONAL SAFETY DURING A FLOOD:

  • Avoid the urge to sightsee. Remind all household members not to play or linger near flood control channels and storm drains.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number-one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area or bypass road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed-out.
  • If you become stranded in your car, stay with your vehicle and move to the hood or roof if water continues to rise.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. A common flood killer is electrocution. Electrical currents can travel through water.
  • Report downed power lines in the City of Los Angeles to the Department of Water and Power (1-800-DIAL-DWP) or emergency officials.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FALL IN MOVING WATER?

  • Avoid getting into this dangerous situation.
  • Remain calm. Don't waste energy yelling for help after someone has spotted you.
  • Get ready to be rescued.
  • Try to float on your back with your legs straight and your feet pointed downstream.
  • Use your legs to shove yourself away from obstructions.
  • Keep your head up so that you can see where you are going.
  • Watch for obstacles and debris! If a tree or other stationary object is blocking the channel, forcing water over it, try to flip over on your stomach and approach the obstacle head-on, crawling over the top of it.
  • Most victims in swift water die when they get pinned against obstacles or get trapped in submerged debris and vegetation.
WHAT IF YOU SEE SOMEONE FALL INTO MOVING WATER?

  • Do not go into the water after the victim.
  • Do not try to pull the victim out with your hands, rope or similar device. Do not attach anything to yourself and toss it to a victim in the water. The force of the current will pull you in.
  • If possible, throw a floatation device to the victim, such as a boogie board, Styrofoam ice chest, basketball or other unattached object.
  • Immediately call 9-1-1.
  • Tell the 9-1-1 operator that someone fell into the channel and is being swept downstream. Say that "swift water rescue teams" need to respond.
  • Give accurate information about where and when you saw the victim and what the victim was wearing.
  • Though members of your Los Angeles Fire Department are specially trained and equipped to respond to water rescues, not every victim survives. We therefore remind you that when it comes to swift moving water: 'Stay Away and Stay Alive!'
WHAT IF YOU WITNESS STORM DAMAGE?

    City of Los Angeles residents should call 3-1-1 or (213) 473-3231 to report potholes, downed street trees, inoperative traffic signals, clogged street drains and any storm-related property damage requiring an inspection or action by City of Los Angeles officials.
WHAT IF YOU EXPERIENCE STORM DAMAGE?

    If, despite your best efforts, you become a victim of storm or floodwater damage, please visit LAFD.ORG for helpful recovery tips.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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