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Department of Health Services

Public Health Division

Protective Measures

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Consider basic protective measures you can take to prepare yourself and your family before, during and after a disaster or public health emergency.

  • Have the disaster discussion; be informed of potential hazards and their impacts.
  • Make an emergency kit for your home, place of work and vehicle.
  • Develop a communication and evacuation plan.
  • Get trained on life-saving techniques.
  • Partner with your neighbors, service-and community-based organizations and local businesses and to coordinate and build community preparedness.

Crucial Tips for All Hazards

When Disaster Strikes

  • Monitor Communications.  Stay informed through the radio, TV news stations, web and social media outlets with critical information such as flash flood watches and warnings, tsunami warnings, wind advisories, wildfire and flood evacuation orders, damaged or closed roads, etc.
  • Follow Instructions.  Listen for, and follow instructions and evacuation procedures from emergency officials.

Avoid These Common Hazards

  • Downed Power Lines.  Do not approach power lines. If you accidently drive over a power line or if it falls on your vehicle do not get out of your vehicle. Call 9-1-1 and wait for emergency assistance.
  • Natural Gas. If you smell or hear escaping gas or see damaged lines turn off the gas if able, otherwise leave the area immediately and then call 9-1-1.
  • Injuries after a Disaster.  Be careful navigating through and cleaning broken glass and debris after an event. Be sure to wear protective gear such as gloves, sturdy shoes and a mask to protect yourself from further injury and inhaling dust or toxic fumes.



  • Assess structure integrity of your home and office; secure heavy objects such as furniture, water heaters, appliances and pictures that may move, break or fall during an earthquake.
  • Keep a pair of shoes and flashlight near the bed to avoid injuries from broken glass and debris when evacuating after an earthquake.


  • Drop, Cover and Hold On!
  • Stay in place until the shaking stops and it’s safe to evacuate the area.
  • If you are in a moving vehicle, slow down, pull over and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, trees, buildings and utility wires.


  • Expect aftershocks!
  • Cover your nose and mouth with available material to protect yourself from dust and potential toxic fumes.
  • Do not use open flame for light in the event of a gas leak.
  • Exit the structure if there is a safe route; avoid injury from broken glass and other debris.
  • If you smell or hear escaping gas or see damaged lines turn off the gas immediately.
  • If you are in a high risk area for tsunamis, move to higher ground immediately.


Before the Storm

  • Monitor weather reports to know the timing, extent and anticipated impact to your area and stay informed with up-to-date information such as flash flood watches and warnings.
  • Have your vehicle packed with emergency supplies and kept adequately fueled in case you need to evacuate.
  • Have emergency building materials such as sandbags, plywood and plastic sheeting for flooding and wind proofing your home or place of business.

During and After the Storm

  • During a flood warning evacuate immediately to a pre-identified safe zone.
  • Do not cross flooded or damaged roads. Water depth may not be obvious and most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Be aware of contaminated water. Water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, chemicals or raw sewage.

Infectious Diseases

What is a Pandemic?  When a new virus emerges that the population may have little to no immunity against, causing rapid, world-wide spread of the disease. 

What’s the Impact?

  • Healthcare system overload and shortage of supplies.
  • High rates of sick people and possible death.
  • Potential social and personal distancing restrictions.

What Do You Do?

  • Practice good health habits.
  • Implement prevention and control actions as recommended by public health officials.

A Healthy You Equals a Healthy Community: Follow Good Health Practices!

  1. Confirm that you and your family are current on all vaccinations and if not, get vaccinated.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth if you cough or sneeze.
  3. Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Don’t share personal items and clean and disinfect common surfaces and objects.
  5. Protect others by staying home if you are sick until a minimum of 24 hours after the last day of a fever, except to seek medical care or necessities.

When Should You Call 9-1-1?

Emergency dispatch lines may be overwhelmed in a disaster. Avoid calling 9-1-1 unless it is a life-threatening situation but if in doubt, always seek emergency care!

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Any symptoms of a heart attack including chest pain or pressure, pain in the left arm or the jaw, sudden weakness, dizziness or change in vision.
  • Signs of stroke such as numbness, slurred speech, severe headache, weakness on one side of the face, confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • Head trauma, life-or limb threatening injury, severe bleeding.
  • Medication overdose.

What Does Shelter in Place Mean?

Take immediate shelter where you are – at home, work, school or a vehicle. It may require sealing a room to prevent outside air from coming in due to contaminants in the environment. Reasons to shelter-in-place may include:

  • Extreme weather
  • Terrorist attack
  • Hazardous materials incident
  • Intruder or extreme violence on the premises



  • Defensible Space.  Create a 100-ft. safety zone around your home and other structures as required by California State law.
  • Avoid creating sparks with equipment such as lawnmowers by using them in the morning and not operating during excessively dry or windy conditions. Do not park cars in tall, dry grass; hot exhaust systems can ignite dry vegetation. Avoid towing chains and vehicle parts dragging on the ground.
  • Make your address visible from the street in both directions, with 4” (min) reflective numbers on a contrasting background.

In the Event of a Fire

  • Evacuate early to avoid being trapped.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source if fire is imminent.
  • Wear protective clothing to protect your skin, eyes and face from smoke, ash and embers.
  • Limit exposure to smoke.  Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke. Wear an N95 mask or cover nose and mouth with available material while outside to minimize smoke inhalation.

Accidental and Intentional Threats

Types of Threats

  • Biological (Anthrax, Botulism, Smallpox, etc.)
  • Nuclear Blast
  • Chemical (Industrial accident or an intentional release)
  • Radiological Dispersion Device

In the Event of a Threat

  1. Immediately report any suspicious activity, device or substance and avoid the area.
  2. Follow instructions from emergency officials including protective measures such as shelter-in-place or to evacuate.
  3. Avoid inhaling or ingesting any substances, smoke or fumes by covering your nose and mouth with available material.
  4. Follow decontamination and medical procedures from emergency and health officials if you have come in contact with a hazardous substance.