New Campaign Encourages Disaster Preparedness in the LGBTQ+ Community

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The Listos California program will be handing out empty "go bags" this month to partner organizations for distribution to the public. Photo Credit: Paul Brennan / Pixabay

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — September is National Preparedness Month, so this week LGBTQ+ groups released an open letter and launching a big social media campaign to get the community to plan ahead in case of wildfire, earthquake, floods or other emergencies.

Beatriz Valenzuela, communications manager for Equality California, said everyone needs to have a plan should they lose cell service or power during an emergency.

“We will agree to meet at this certain place,” Valenzuela said. “If you have children in school, who will be picking up the kids? It’s all these things that will be so important when it comes to being prepared for a disaster.”

Everyone is encouraged to sign up for real-time alerts from your county emergency management agency or fire department.

You should also prepare a “go bag” with paper copies of your ID and health-insurance card, a cell phone charger and extra batteries, printed photos of family members and pets in case someone goes missing, cash in small bills, a paper map, extra medications, a flashlight and a portable radio.

Aisha Charves, is program coordinator for the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, which is part of LISTOS California, which means “ready” in Spanish, an initiative of the governor’s office and the Legislature.

“It’s important to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community because this is the community that is often marginalized, or forgotten about,” Charves said. “Some of our members are seniors who might not be connected to their family. There’s a lot of youth who are unhoused and in the foster-care system.”

Valenzuela said people also should prepare to shelter in place, with a stay box that has nonperishable food, flashlights, trash bags with zip ties and three gallons of water per person.

“This is important because you will be drinking this water, you may have to wash with this water and you may have to cook with this water,” Valenzuela said.

It’s also a good idea to print out a list of your friends and relatives’ names, numbers and addresses, so you can help them out in a pinch.

You can text LISTOS to 72345 to get emergency-preparedness tips.

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