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La Verne prepares for natural disasters at expo

Posted April 19, 2006

Jaclyn Gonzales
Staff Writer

The mild weather of sunny Southern California can make us forget that we are in fact as vulnerable as any region to natural disasters – particularly earthquakes.

The Pomona Valley Red Cross and La Verne merchants held a Disaster Preparedness Expo earlier this month in the La Verne OSH Shopping Center on Foothill Boulevard, participants had the opportunity to prepare for such a disaster by assembling a kit.

With this event, the city of La Verne launched “The First 72 Are On You” campaign to promote the importance of resident preparedness for families to manage themselves for a minimum of three days following a widespread disaster. 

“Parents and children need to be prepared,” La Verne Mayor Jon Blickenstaff said.

Lists of emergency necessities and informative handouts were distributed at this child friendly event, which also featured a raffle for a chance to win a complete emergency disaster kit. A bounce house, coloring contest, face painting, bubbles and an opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny were on hand for the events’ youngest participants.

“The coloring contest was the way for the children to get prepared,” Blickenstaff said.  “When I asked the child what he saw on the paper and what it had to do with preparing for a disaster, the reply was a teddy bear and it was something to cuddle and feel safe.”   

The La Verne Police and Fire Department, the Salvation Army, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and Southern California Edison, among many other organizations and businesses sponsored and provided information for the event.

A Southern California Edison employee gave instruction to those who stopped by the booth, “turn off the gas line when needed.”  One of the first places to check is the garage; the plumbing usually becomes loose in an earthquake.

The American Red Cross suggested developing a plan to follow in case a disaster occurs.  They suggested keeping a phone list of important numbers near the telephone.  A checklist was handed out with suggested items for home, business and car disaster kits.  For the home, have non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, a radio and a flashlight with fresh batteries, a container of fresh water, essential medications as well as other important items.

Some advice that is often over looked is having life, medical and critical illness insurance.  This would be helpful if anything drastic happens.

“The younger you are, especially for college students, the easier it is to get health insurance,” said Adolfo Gutierrez, sales representative for Western & Southern Financial Group.

The police department gave free ID fingerprints for parents to have of their children.

“Parents should take a quality close-up photo of the child in case the child is separated from the parent,” Police Services Coordinator Carol Escobedo said.  “This should be updated yearly.”

“The parents should also carry a lock of the child’s hair,” Retired Service Volunteer Patrol Marlou Faustini said.

It is best to be prepared for a disaster and know that there are organizations that can provide relief, such as the American Red Cross. 

“We had a wonderful turnout,” Blickenstaff said.  “I thought it would be good, but the event exceeded our expectations.  This was the first year we did big promotions for the Expo.”

After attending the event, La Verne residents were now prepared for disasters.

“It’s nice that the community has this event,” said Laura Russell, a La Verne resident.  “I like that there are representatives from the agencies you will need in an emergency, like the animal shelters, Red Cross and hospitals.”  

Jaclyn Gonzales can be reached at