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Website helps Californians prepare for disaster

September 6, 2013

By Pablo J. Sáinz

Michael Kleeman, a State of California expert on disaster preparedness

Michael Kleeman, a State of California expert on disaster preparedness

A recently launched website that promotes disaster preparedness among Californians was introduced to ethnic media editors and reporters in San Diego this past week.

At a recent media round-table organized in part by New America Media, a non-profit based in San Francisco that supports ethnic media in the U.S., TotallyUnprepared.com developers said that they main goal of the user-friendly site is “to engage audiences on emergency preparedness.”

“We want this website to be the go-to site for emergency preparedness,” said Michael Kleeman, an expert in the tech field who was contracted by the State of California to develop the website. “We want it to be a critical resource for people.”

TotallyUnprepared.com features videos, a blog, and tips on how to better prepare for an emergency or disaster. It includes a link to download apps developed by the American Red Cross that can be useful in case of a natural disaster, such as fires, earthquakes, or hurricanes. The website also has a Spanish-language section with suggestions, and how-to sheets to help Spanish-speakers face disasters.

During the media roundtable, editors and reporters from local ethnic media in San Diego, including La Prensa San Diego, enthusiastically shared ideas on how to promote the site among their audiences.

Among the ideas mentioned were placing ads and banners on their publications encouraging readers to visit the site, community forums, and promoting the site and disaster preparedness in general on their social media pages.

Kleeman said there are three main reasons that prevent low-income families in California to prepare ahead of disasters.
These are financial/economic burdens, denial of possible disasters, and intergenerational gaps.

Regarding the economic reason he said that it is difficult for people to invest in an emergency kit for the future when they’re struggling to meet their immediate needs.

Also, he said that denial of possible disasters is due to people not wanting to think about negative issues, such as earthquakes or fires, although they’re real threats.

The intergenerational discount between older and younger generations is that major earthquakes or fires that happened in the past seem very far, he said.

Kleeman also said that the discount refers to the belief that disaster “won’t happen to us.”

“People think, ‘Fires happen somewhere else, floods happen somewhere else,’” he said.

Ricardo Moran, preparedness manager for the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties, said that one aspect that persists among immigrant communities when it comes to disaster preparedness is that there’s no immediate gratification for investing in an emergency kit.

Also, immigrants tend to focus more on the here and now, not future disasters.

“When they’re dealing with housing issues, medical coverage, gangs, getting kids to school safely, they laugh at the concept of preparing for disasters, and frankly I don’t blame them,” Moran said.

TotallyUnprepared.com includes several checklists, such as the Earthquake Safety Checklist. Some of the questions to ask yourself to protect your family are:

· Have you practiced “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” with your family?
· Do you have a home emergency kit with a radio, and a 3-day supply of food and water per person?
· Does each family member have an emergency wallet card?
To learn more about disaster preparedness, please visit www.totallyunprepared.com.

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