An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of underground rock. Earthquakes can cause buildings to collapse and cause heavy items to fall, resulting in injuries and property damage. Earthquakes can:
- Happen without warning
- Cause fires
- Damage roads
- Cause landslides and avalanches
- Secure items, such as televisions, and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.
- Practice Drop, Cover, then Hold On with family and coworkers. Drop to your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Crawl only as far as needed to reach cover from falling materials. Hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops.
- Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.
- Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Consider each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
- Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.
- Consider a retrofit of your building to correct structural issues that make it vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake.
- Drop to your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops. Crawl only if you can reach better cover without going through an area with more debris.
- If in bed, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
- If inside, stay there until the shaking stops. DO NOT run outside.
- If in a vehicle, stop in a clear area that is away from buildings, trees, overpasses, underpasses, or utility wires.
- Do not use elevators.
- If near slopes, cliffs, or mountains, be alert for falling rocks and landslides.
- Expect aftershocks to follow the largest shock of an earthquake.
- Check yourself for injury and provide assistance to others if you have training.
- If in a damaged building, go outside and quickly move away from the building.
- Do not enter damaged buildings.
- If you are trapped, cover your mouth. Send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting so that rescuers can locate you.
- If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, go inland or to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.
- Save phone calls for emergencies.
- Once safe, monitor local news reports via battery operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions.
- Use extreme caution during post-disaster clean-up of buildings and around debris. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick-soled shoes during clean-up.
The Santa Clara County Fire District provides fire services for the Town of Los Gatos. Fire Department programs and services are dedicated to ensuring residents are informed of potential risks to their property and families. The County Fire District offers many services to residents and are especially concerned with hillside fire safety.
If you live in the hillside (or Wildland Urban Interface) areas around Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council has resources available to assist in keeping your home Fire Safe. A recently revised 20-page, step-by-step guide for homeowners and residents is available on-line or by calling (408) 975-9591. The guide, Living With Fire in Santa Clara County, includes recently updated information on creating Defensible Space, fire resistant plants and roofing materials.
In 2010, CAL FIRE launched the Ready for Wildfire website to assist homeowners in preparing for wildfires. The site offers residents simple tips and a preparedness toolkit for homeowners to make their home more resistant to wildfires and to ensure that their family is ready to evacuate early and safely when a wildfire strikes.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Know your community’s evacuation plans and find several ways to leave the area. Drive the evacuation routes and find shelter locations. Have a plan for pets and livestock.
- Gather emergency supplies, including N95 respirator masks that filter out particles in the air you breathe. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including and updated asthma action plan and medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
- Keep important documents in a fireproof, safe place. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate, or make repairs.
- Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your home.
- Review insurance coverage to make sure it is enough to replace your property.
- Pay attention to air quality alerts.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A WILDFIRE WARNING, GET TO SAFETY RIGHT AWAY
- Leave if told to do so.
- Listen for emergency information and alerts.
- Use N95 masks to keep particles out of the air you breathe.
- Evacuate immediately if authorities tell you to do so.
- If trapped, then call 911 and give your location, but be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible. Turn on lights to help rescuers find you.
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
- If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, stay inside in a safe location or go to a community building where smoke levels are lower.
- Listen to authorities to find out when it is safe to return, and whether water is safe to drink.
- Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire. Consider the danger to pets and livestock.
- Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster. Make calls only in emergencies.
- Wear a NIOSH certified-respirator dust mask and wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
- Wildfires dramatically change landscape and ground conditions, which can lead to increased risk of flooding due to heavy rains, flash flooding and mudflows. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored—up to 5 years after a wildfire. Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect the life you've built and to assure financial protection from future flooding.
The Town of Los Gatos has developed a comprehensive program to address the threat to public safety that the possibility of dam failure poses. One of the final steps of that program is the installation of flood evacuation route signs, directing evacuees to the safe zones of Los Gatos Boulevard on the east, and N. Santa Cruz Avenue/Winchester Boulevard on the west.
The evacuation route signs have been posted on the east-west arterial routes of Main Street, Highway 9/Saratoga Avenue, Blossom Hill Road and Lark Avenue. In the event an evacuation is ordered, people and traffic west of Los Gatos Creek or Highway 17 would be directed to N. Santa Cruz Avenue or Winchester Boulevard. Those to the east of Los Gatos Creek would be directed to Los Gatos Boulevard. View Evacuation Map
After a significant earthquake the integrity of the dam would be evaluated. If the safety of the structure was in doubt, the evacuation of the flood inundation zone could be ordered. Evacuation announcements to the residents and business in the affected area would be made via the public radio and television Emergency Alert System (EAS,) Alert SCC reverse 911 system, by door to door contact by emergency response personnel, or by vehicle mounted public address systems. View Press Release from February 2, 2012.
In addition to evacuation route signage, the following other components of the plan have been completed:
Training has been provided to Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police by water district dam safety personnel on how to recognize and report post-earthquake damage to the dam.
The Town of Los Gatos Emergency Operations Plan has incorporated a Flood Evacuation Plan annex which establishes evacuation zones and routes as well as incident command procedures.
- Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
- Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
- Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you've built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A FLOOD WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
- Depending on the flood: evacuate if told to do so, move to higher ground or a higher floor, or stay where you are.
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
- If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go on the roof only if necessary. Once there, signal for help.
- Listen to authorities for information and instructions. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Avoid driving, except in emergencies.
- Snakes and other animals may be in your house. Wear heavy gloves and boots during clean up.
- Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock.
- Avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris and be contaminated. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
- Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
|Lexington Reservoir/Lenihan Dam||Vasona Lake Dam|
While the Lenihan Dam at Lexington Reservoir is considered to be structurally sound and is carefully maintained by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the fact that the lake’s 19,000 acre feet of water is just minutes upstream from downtown Los Gatos, makes it a concern to Los Gatos emergency managers.
Built in 1952, the Lenihan Dam is an earthen structure that is designed to withstand earthquakes. Water District studies show that in the event of a catastrophic failure of the dam, with the reservoir at capacity, flood waters would reach Main Street in about six minutes, and would inundate nearly all of the area between Los Gatos Boulevard and North Santa Cruz Avenue/Winchester Boulevard.
|At 400 acre feet capacity, the Vasona Lake Dam represents less of a hazard to Los Gatos. Also an earthen dam, a catastrophic failure of Vasona would almost immediately inundate the portions of Los Gatos bordering Los Gatos Creek from the dam to the border of Campbell.|