On July 8th, 2017, the San Fernando Valley experienced a power outage caused by a power distribution fire at a LADWP facility in Northridge, CA. The fire started at approximately 6:30pm and power had to be shut down to the facility before LAFD could initiate an attack on the fire without risk of electrocution. The result of such a fire caused a chain reaction resulting in 140,000 LADWP customers losing power from a few hours to 12 hours. In some cases, it was even longer.
As we monitored social media, we could see that many folks were using their cell phones to communicate and to share updates. We also observed many having a difficult time adjusting to the sudden power outage such as those with medical conditions or those concerned about the elderly and kids. What made this power outage worse was the fact that for the last two days the temperatures were in the triple digit range and in some cases records being shattered. For example, it was reported to be up to 112 degrees in Woodland Hills, CA. When the power went out, so did air conditioners making life miserable for many in the San Fernando Valley.
The reality here is that more often people are not prepared for a disaster and there will be deaths attributed to a power grid failure for example. The question is who really has the means to spend up to $10,000 for a generator that could power a home in such a situation? Not many! How many people such as the elderly rely on oxygen machines or other medical devices to keep them alive? Quite a few!
The biggest problem we see when it comes to disaster preparedness is the enemy called “Public Apathy”. This is one is huge and we do not see a change anytime soon in this area.
IN ANY DISASTER, THE POWER GRID IS VULNERABLE
As we have seen, the power grid is vulnerable to heat, over demand, natural disasters and even terrorist attacks. Based on the social media posts we saw, we suggest that people prepare for the worst such as an earthquake that can leave many without power for an extended amount of time. If you remember the 1994 Northridge earthquake, in some areas the power was out for days and up to a week. Are you prepared to be without power for that long? Probably not!
Another threat that is not being addressed is a terrorist attack on a power distribution center and the lack of security surrounding the distribution stations. Terrorists know that people rely on the power to survive and they can exploit that very easily.
EMERGENCY SERVICES AND POLICE
When an emergency occurs, understand that you may be on your own as police and fire units may be handling the worst cases. In some instances, you can expect to be on your own for up to 72 hours or longer. 911 operators will be slammed with calls and not everyone will get through. In a power failure, using a cell phone to call 911 will be routed to Sacramento, CA before being transferred to local agencies.
PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO REACT
When the power grid went down for a large swath of the San Fernando Valley, many were driving to or from somewhere. Traffic signals were down which caused instant traffic nightmares. In times like this, many forget the rules of the road and simply do not care how they drive as long as they get to where they need to go. In some cases, it was reported that some drivers were just reckless in their attempt to get to their destination forgetting all rules of the road. This put many people at risk.
HAVE A PLAN
In many cases people do not have an emergency action plan that details what they would do in specific situations. Your EAP should include:
– When to shelter in place
– When to escape
– What to do if someone is injured
– What to do for food & water
– Pet preparedness
– What to do for emergency supplies
The list goes on and we will post a comprehensive guide on establishing your EAP at a later time.
WHAT YOU NEED TO SURVIVE A POWER OUTAGE
We can suggest some simple items that can be stored for use during a power outage and they don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. We hope that the sudden power failure made some realize that it is times to develop a disaster preparedness kit.
– Portable lanterns (LED)
– Portable radio to monitor situation
– Backup batteries for electronic devices (cell phones or tablets)
– Extra fuel for vehicles for escape
– First aid kit
We know that this last item will be a hot topic but when the power grid goes down, there are those who will do whatever they can to prey on the weak and unsuspecting. There are those who will attempt to loot homes or businesses. If you are strong enough and willing, we suggest taking home defense courses and learn to use a firearm!
– Self defense via a firearm (handgun or long gun)
If you or your community would like a disaster preparedness speaker to come and give a presentation on preparedness, please contact us at 747-444-1035