Safety officials: An 'OK' sign can be as useful to first responders after an earthquake as a 'HELP' sign

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Los Angeles officials want people to be prepared for an earthquake - or any other disaster. In conjunction with Thursday's Great California Shakeout, emergency management officials say it's time for every household to check and replenish its supply kit.

The emergency kit everyone’s supposed to keep ready at home and in the car probably includes a way to signal for help. In advance of this week's Great California Shakeout, public safety officials suggest that a sign indicating you and yours are all right will also come in handy.

It’s all part of the preparedness ethic emergency management officials have promoted in recent years - especially in California, where a major earthquake is likely to happen without warning.

Ideally, each household should store enough food, water, medications and batteries to hold out for several days before help arrives following a major earthquake or other catastrophe. To let responders know whether somebody inside needs assistance or can manage on their own, the city of Los Angeles urges people to make or obtain window signs that read “HELP” or “OK.”

LA City Councilman Mitch Englander is chair of the council's public safety committee. During a news conference Monday, he said, "Just like an earthquake survival kit, the OK/HELP sign should be in every home."

The city, along with the US Geological Survey and the American Red Cross, plans to distribute 50,000 signs with those messages and instructions about what to do after a big quake. Those signs will help law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency personnel know which people need them most urgently.

On Thursday during the statewide earthquake drill, more than 9 million Californians expect to "Drop, cover and hold on" at exactly 10:18 am.

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