Valuable lessons from the blackout

A regional power failure that began at 3:44 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, provided a vivid reminder that we need to be prepared for disasters with longer and more far reaching consequences. The early indications were that power would be out for 24-48 hours, but luckily, power was restored within 12 hours. Cell phone communication was possible, but the lack of power to relay stations and the high call load led to many dropped calls. The lack of traffic signals led to widespread gridlock and quite a few minor accidents.

Our city manager joined the city managers of Encinitas and Solana Beach at an emergency operations center in Encinitas to coordinate efforts of police and fire responders. Their radios provided the most effective means of communication, and underscored the value that HAM radio operators have in disaster communications. The Del Mar/Solana Beach Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program has trained HAM radio operators, and a radio repeater is being installed on Crest Road to improve regional communication. Del Mar has 22 certified CERT members, and new training courses are provided each fall. The next CERT training course will start Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Station #2 located at 16930 Four Gee Rd., San Diego, CA 92127. Carol Kerridge, our local CERT Team Leader, has more information on this course (see below for contact information).

Here are some suggestions for preparing for the next emergency situation:

• Maintain adequate supplies of water, nonperishable food, and a first aid kit

• Keep a battery operated radio in the house with fresh batteries and tune in to the regional emergency broadcast station

• Keep an analog phone in the house for backup use in the event of loss of power

• Keep flashlights and fresh batteries

• Do not leave candles or other open flames unattended

• Check on the welfare of family, friends and neighbors and offer assistance as needed

• Call 911 only in an emergency

There is a way that you can get help in being prepared. The free “Are You Ready, Del Mar?” program consists of someone inviting their neighbors to a meeting at their home for an hour-long presentation on what are the risks for disasters in Del Mar, what you can do ahead of time to minimize damage, what supplies you need to keep on hand, and what should you do when a disaster actually occurs. Please call Carol Kerridge 858 755-7821 or e-mail at ckerridge@ucsd.edu if you are interested in hosting a neighborhood meeting. More than 600 Del Mar residents have attended a meeting in the last four years.

Persons who need special care, have health issues, or are on life support at home and need a welfare check in the event of an emergency are asked to contact and register with Del Mar Community Connections at (858) 792-7570. This will provide a registry that will enable City first responders to proactively check on persons who need special attention when an emergency occurs.

Finally, help your neighbors once your family is secure. Del Mar is a unique and caring community, and disasters provide both the necessity and the opportunity to demonstrate this.


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