The city of Indio held its first-ever Emergency Preparedness Expo today at the Indio Emergency Operations Center, next to City Hall.
“We’re doing this in celebration of National Preparedness Month, which occurs every September,” said Dennis Day, Emergency Operations Center Manager.
The event featured a mix of businesses from the City of Indio and Riverside County, including the Imperial Irrigation District, Southern California Gas, American Red Cross, and others.
“All the vendors here have a role that would either help in emergency preparedness before, during, or after an emergency,” said Dennis Day. He added, “I think public outreach and identifying the types of hazards that we’re susceptible to here in the Coachella Valley is important.”
Billy Fuentes, a resident of Indio, said he and his family have been discussing putting together a plan for when an emergency happens, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Recent natural disasters around the world, like the major earthquake off the coast of Mexico this week, motivated him to attend the preparedness expo to get information.
“I'm pretty sure a lot of people are not aware of what to do, what to expect in an emergency,” said Billy Fuentes.
The American Red Cross also had a representative present at the event, offering information on the non-profit's free emergency preparedness programs – including Sound the Alarm.
Through that program, members of the community can get smoke detectors installed in their homes completely free of charge.
Gerald Winkel, Disaster Program Manager for the American Red Cross of Riverside, said that three years ago, the non-profit had an installation event at a mobile home park in Palm Springs, which turned out to be life-saving.
"A couple of months later, one of the units actually had a fire, but because of the smoke alarms, the two residents were able to escape,” explained Winkel.
He also referenced recent wildfires in California while discussing the importance of preparing an emergency supplies kit ahead of time.
"As we just saw with the Fairview Fire in Hemet, evacuations can happen very quickly so you want to make sure you have a go kit that includes all the things that you need for daily living," said Winkel.
The American Red Cross created a checklist that can help people prepare ahead of an emergency situation.
The American Red Cross offers several free emergency preparedness programs for community members, which are taught by certified presenters.
For more resources and tips for emergency preparedness offered by the American Red Cross, click the link here.