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How to prepare for when disasters strike

#Safeplaceselfie Day is trending to raise awareness and remind people to prepare a plan in case disaster strikes.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Most people who don’t live in California, think the only type of severe environmental or weather event we ever get here are either earthquakes or wildfires. 

That’s simply not true. Beyond earthquakes, we have floods, lightning storms and even small tornadoes. Knowing where to go when these events happen can literally save our lives.

For earthquakes, the motto is "Drop, Cover and Hold On." Remember, in an earthquake, there will be a lot of movement and things falling. If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table and hold on. Stay clear of windows and heavy furniture because windows can break and furniture can fall. 

Kitchens are another place to stay clear of during an earthquake since there are household items that can fall on you. If you are outside, run to an open space away from buildings and power lines. If you are in a car, pull over and stay inside. Don’t pull over under a bridge, overpass, trees, light posts, power lines or signs as those could easily topple.

The motto for floods is "Turn Around, Don’t Drown." Never try to navigate flooded roads since the depth can change quickly. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], as little as six inches of water can sweep a person off their feet, while a car can get swept away in just 12 inches of water. 

Stay off bridges too, since water upstream could rush down quickly and wipe away the bridge. The best way to stay safe is get to higher ground and listen to emergency alerts in case of evacuation orders.

Wildfire danger is also quickly growing in California. The biggest take away from recent wildfires is to have an evacuation plan. This means having medications, necessary papers, and a family plan for communication in place. If told to leave, do so immediately. If trapped, call 911.

Thunderstorms with frequent lightning may have us running for cover, however, there are a few places to avoid when looking shelter from a storm. Lightning seeks out the easiest thing to strike, such as trees, open spaces and bodies of water. The best place for shelter during lightning is inside a building.

Thunderstorms can also rapidly develop into severe storms with small tornadoes. Even though tornadoes in California are on the lower end of the severity scale, they can still send debris flying. The best place to be is inside away from windows. Seek shelter in an interior space, like a bathroom or inner hallway.

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