Preparing For Emergencies
San Bernardino County Public Health prepares for natural and man-made disasters and disease threats, working collaboratively with other emergency responders, healthcare facilities, and local citizens in order to serve the community.
San Bernardino County’s Public Health Preparedness and Response Program focuses on planning the response to disease threats, such as influenza pandemics, bioterrorism, and health hazards associated with natural disasters (earthquakes, wildfires, drought and others).
Preparing and planning can help you and your families survive safely. Learn what to do, what you’ll need, and how to make your home a safer place. Visit the US Department of Health & Human Services Public Health Emergency website for more information.
What Is A Natural Disaster?
A natural disaster can occur at any time and without warning. Natural disasters can cause damage to life, property, and cut off basic services. In San Bernardino County we face the threat of natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. There are also severe weather threats such as extreme heat or extreme cold that can threaten the health of individuals or groups in our communities. For more information on natural disasters visit the California Department of Health Services Natural Disasters Information website.
Natural Disasters That Pose A Health Threat
Possible natural disasters that could pose a threat to health in San Bernardino County:
How Can I Prepare?
All San Bernardino County residents should prepare NOW for a natural disaster. There are many health risks associated with natural disasters including health effects from smoke, heat, cold, and unsafe food or water. You should be prepared to survive on your own with enough stored food, water, and supplies in your Emergency Supply Kit. Personal preparedness for yourself, your family, and pets will help you to remain healthy and safe during a natural disaster. You can get ready in advance by learning more about the risks and health threats some natural disasters can cause.
How Can I Protect Myself?
During a natural disaster you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for a while. A clean source of water should be your top priority. A power outage that lasts for more than two hours can be hazardous to food. During a disaster it is important to practice food safety, water safety, disease prevention, and know where to find alternate sources of food and water. Here are some ways to find and use safe food and water during an emergency.
How Will I Be Notified In An Emergency?
In the event of an emergency, local officials, including the Department of Public Health, would provide information and instructions to the public as quickly as possible. You will be notified either by radio, television, Internet, and any other means necessary. San Bernardino County residents can tune their radios to the following local stations that have been designated to provide critical information and emergency alerts.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
San Bernardino County Emergency Information Line: (909) 355-8800 — Recorded Information Only
The EAS is a warning system to provide the public with immediate messages that affect life and property. EAS is a way to provide emergency information quickly by radio, television, and cable licensees to the public. During an emergency, tune to your local EAS radio broadcast stations listed below or a station in your area.
95.1 FM KFRG Valley/High Desert
93.3 FM KBHR Big Bear Valley
98.9 FM KHWY High Desert
102.3 FM KZXY Victor Valley
107.7 FM KCDZ Morongo/Joshua Tree
1620 AM Caltrans Information
For more information on natural disasters visit the
California Department of Health Services Natural Disasters Information website.
Surviving an earthquake and reducing its health impact requires preparation, planning, and practice. Learning what actions to take can help you and your family to remain safe and healthy in the event of an earthquake. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s information on earthquakes webpage.
Play & Prepare
Drought is a natural phenomenon in which rainfall is lower than average for an extended period of time, resulting in inadequate water supply. Drought can lead to public health problems. Severe drought conditions can negatively affect air quality. During drought, there is an increased risk for wildfires and dust storms. Particulate matter suspended in the air from these events can irritate the bronchial passages and lungs. This can make chronic respiratory illnesses worse and increase the risk for respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.
Access the Save Our Water website for more information and tools on suggestion and tips for water conservation.
Dry conditions in parts of United States increase the potential for wildfires in or near wilderness areas. Stay alert for wildfire warnings and take action to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke. Wildfires are common, especially after long, hot periods of drought. They can spread quickly and produce dangerous smoke, threatening property, lives and health. Help reduce your risks by learning how to respond.
What Do I Need To Know About A Wildfire In My Area?
- Be prepared to evacuate. When the threat of wildfires is high, stay tuned to local radio, television or get information from the National Weather Service about NOAA Weather Radio.
- Be prepared to evacuate immediately. Taking the following precautions can help you evacuate safely and quickly:
- Park your car in the direction of escape and keep the windows rolled up to prevent smoke from entering.
- Load your family disaster supply kit in the car and keep family photos or other things you plan to take with you nearby.
- Don’t let children or other family members stray far from home.
- Wear protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) and keep a handkerchief in your pocket to protect your face.
- Confine all pets to one room or area of the yard so you can gather them quickly.
- Leave the lights in your home on so that fire fighters can see it through dense smoke.
- Before you leave, call an out-of-town contact and tell them where you plan to go.
What Are The Health Threats Of Wildfire Smoke?
- Smoke can pose a serious health threat, especially if you have chronic heart or lung disease. Children and older adults are also at greater risk. Even healthy people can be affected by smoky conditions.
- Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants. It can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen symptoms from pre-existing conditions.
Common Symptoms Of Smoke Exposure Include:
- Scratchy throat
- Irritated sinuses
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stinging eyes
- Runny nose
If you experience any of these symptoms, take the following measures:
- Limit outdoor activities as much as possible. When you must go outside, wear a protective mask with an N-95 rating and avoid physical exertion.
- Keep the windows and doors of your home shut.
- Run the air conditioner with the fresh-air intake closed and use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
- Avoid cooking as much as possible.
- Do not burn candles or use fireplaces.
- Do not use vacuum cleaners which can stir up dust already inside your home.
- Keep your airways moist by drinking plenty of water. To help relieve dryness, breathe through a warm, wet cloth.