News Release
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313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 806  |  Los Angeles, CA 90012  |  (213) 240-8144  |

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For Immediate Release:

December 21, 2010

Just Be Ready
Storms remind residents to pack 10 Essential Items to be prepared for emergencies

LOS ANGELES - As storms blanket Los Angeles County with heavy rain, wind, mudslides and flash flooding, the Department of Public Health has tips on pre-planning for an emergency and cleaning up after disaster strikes in order to best protect one's health. The storms that have struck this week have already caused evacuations, unfortunate damage to homes, and power outages, underlining the importance for every resident to be prepared.

"Though no one can prevent the forces of nature from affecting our county, everyone has the ability and the responsibility to prepare for disasters. This is especially important for those that have special health or medical needs," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "Having a family communication plan and an emergency kit can provide the necessary resources to help you and your family get through many difficult situations, whether it is a bad storm, fires, or an earthquake."

The 10 Essential Items, as recommended by the Emergency Survival Program in LA County's Office of Emergency Management, include:

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Cash and Important Documents
  4. Clothes
  5. Flashlight
  6. First Aid Kit
  7. Medicine
  8. Radio
  9. Toiletries
  10. Tools

These essential items will help ensure that people have access to basic essentials when other resources may not be available during an emergency. It is also vital that families put together a Communications Plan, such as a pre- planned place to meet and a designated out-of-state contact, in case family members are separated or at work or school when a disaster strikes.

Safe Clean Up: Many homes in LA County may have been damaged by flash flooding or mudslides. In most cases, special precautions do not need to be taken while cleaning up after flooding or a mudslide, as there is minimal risk of exposure to chemicals, toxins, or bacteria. Residents should not swim in, bathe in or use floodwater for cooking or drinking.

If there has been a break in a sewer line, report the break to the LA County Department of Public Works by calling (800) 675-HELP (4357) or by visiting their website at

If sewage is overflowing onto a ground surface, over the curb and/or flowing toward a storm drain, call the Recreational Waters Program immediately at (626) 430-5360, or call the LA County Operator at (213) 974-1234 (nights and weekends).

Residents should wear sturdy shoes and gloves for protection while cleaning. Face masks are not necessary. If a job appears to be too big, hire a professional cleaning service.

Food Safety: The following is advised to maintain food safety:

  • Plastic bottles of liquid, such as water, that have been covered with mud should be discarded. It is not enough to rinse off the bottle as these particles contaminate the caps, making them very difficult to decontaminate.
  • Food that has not been stored in waterproof or airtight containers and has been covered with mud should be discarded. This includes products that have been stored in cardboard or other soft packaging.
  • Food stored in sealed, previously unopened glass or metal cans or jars, such as baby food, should be safe for use. Clean before opening and transfer the contents to another container before eating.
  • For those that have experienced power outages, it is best to throw away perishable food, such as meat, dairy products and eggs. Items that have defrosted in the freezer during a power outage should also be discarded.
  • For more information on earthquake and disaster readiness, call (866) 999-5228 or the LA County Information Line at 2- 1-1 from any landline or cell phone. Bilingual staff is available Monday - Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Additional information can be found on the Public Health website at

    The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit, visit our YouTube channel at, or follow us on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.

    For more information:

    Report Sewer Line Breaks | Disaster Readiness Information