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Since October's devastating wildfires, Sonoma County is all too aware of how devastating a natural disaster can be for a community.

Because of this, it is best to be prepared. We’ve put together tips and guidelines to help better prepare you and your family for when/if a disaster happens. The following is generated with help from ready.gov

First things first: Put together a plan. Identify where people should meet and prepare for many different scenarios.

Knowing the ins and outs of your home and planning multiple evacuation routes is good. Establishing different ways for getting out of the city, even the state is a good idea. Always have at least a half tank of gas, you never know how far you'll need to go before you find an open gas station.

If you and your family get separated while evacuating, knowing that you have established a routine beforehand will be one less thing to worry about. It might sound tedious, but practicing evacuating your house is important, especially if you have children. Make sure that you practice these routes every year. For more information on kid-friendly evacuation plans click here.

Have at least three ways to get emergency alerts and warnings. Sign up to receive local emergency alerts here. It is also useful to have a battery-operated or solar-powered AM/FM radio at hand.

Let’s talk emergency kits now. There are a few different types of kits that you should make in preparation for a range of disasters. These emergency kits should be stored in a cool, dry place to make sure that food and water last as long as possible. Without stating the obvious, these kits should be stored in an easily accessible spot where they won’t be tampered with. At the bare minimum the kits should include:

- A three-day supply of nonperishable food (it’s best to have a two-week supply of this though). Including items that don’t require refrigeration and need little to no cooking (in case of a power outage) is wise.

- It’s a good rule of thumb to store at least one gallon water per person and per pet. Having formula for infants and food for pets on hand is also advised.

- Utensils such as a can opener, waterproof matches, silverware, dishes, and a camp stove is ideal.

- Have three days worth of clothes, shoes, and toiletries for each member of your family.

- Blankets, sleeping bags, tents, multipurpose tool (knife, file, and screwdriver combo) and a whistle are good shelter and safety supplies to keep at hand.

- Store flashlights, AM/FM radio, extra batteries, and a prepaid cell phone with a charger, extra cash, maps, and spare keys in your kit.

- Any prescriptions, a basic first aid kit, and extra glasses/contact lenses are also items that you should keep handy.

Preparing a second kit to keep in your car is a good idea as well. Some other handy items that you should keep in your vehicle should include jumper cables, flares or reflective triangle, ice scraper, and a cell phone charger.

The last thing that you should make sure you have organized is the storing of important paperwork. Put copies of can't-lose documents in a fireproof and waterproof lockbox in case the originals get lost or destroyed. Some important paperwork could include: ID’s, birth certificates, insurance paperwork, passports, deeds, a copy of the family emergency plan (in case a moment of panic occurs), lists of phone numbers and addresses for family members or friends, spare keys. Or if it’s easier, put all of these important documents on a memory stick and store the memory stick in the lockbox.

Stay safe!

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