LA County issues 100-page guide to surviving 'a major disaster'

The county Office of Emergency Management has issued a 100-page guide for residents, providing recommendations on how to prepare for "a major disaster," survive and recover.

The guide is available online and includes tips on preparing for a litany of natural and man-made events.

"The Los Angeles region is subject to various destructive emergencies including earthquakes, flood, landslides, wildfires, tornadoes, urban fires, tsunamis, hazardous material releases, terrorism, and civil unrest," the guide states in its introduction.

County residents have faced nearly all these potential hazards in the past year, the Office of Emergency Services stated.

The new countywide Emergency Survival Guide cautions all residents that in the event of a major disaster, they may be on their own for several days before professional emergency responders arrive.

"Emergency situations become disasters when they overwhelm the resources here to protect our community," the guide states.

In a disaster, county departments will do everything possible to provide assistance to residents, the guide states. However, large disasters may completely overwhelm county responders with multiple incidents and competing public safety needs.

"First responders will need to focus their efforts in the areas where they can do the most good – helping severely endangered people and heavily impacted areas first," the guide states. "It is possible, even likely, that some areas may not get professional assistance for days after a disaster has occurred."

The guide's checklists, color graphics and photos evoke the 145-page Topanga Disaster Survival Guide, issued by the county in September 2005. The new guide includes brief accounts of some of the county's previous disasters, including one of the costliest in U.S. history, the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The Emergency Survival Guide is available online at http://lacounty.gov.

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