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Let’s Get Ready: Take the Month to Prepare for Disaster

The South Coast Water District now houses an emergency potable water trailer giving the utility the ability to transport drinking water to residents in case disaster strikes. Photo by Andrea Papagianis
The South Coast Water District now houses an emergency potable water trailer giving the utility the ability to transport drinking water to residents in case disaster strikes. Photo by Andrea Papagianis

Guest Opinion by: By Lisa Zawaski, senior water quality engineer, city of Dana Point and Linda Homscheid, public information officer, South Coast Water District

Now is the time to prepare for a “perfect storm” or other emergency, as September is National Preparedness Month. During an emergency, you and your family should plan to be on your own for at least three days before utilities are restored and/or help arrives. Proper planning is crucial to get through safely and with the least personal impact. Developing an emergency plan and assembling a disaster supply kit are top priorities.

Stay Informed in Emergencies

A critical part of your planning is registering now to receive important information during a disaster or emergency—information that could protect the health and safety of yourself and your family.

  • AlertOC Program. The city of Dana Point participates in the AlertOC program, a mass notification system that issues emergency information directly to residents by phone, email, text messages and TTY/TDD. Sign up today at and click “Dana Point” on the map.
  • Emergency Contact Information. South Coast Water District will notify customers directly during emergencies about the status and safety of their water and sewer service by phone, email and text message. Sign up at
  • Websites and Social Media will be key sources of information during emergencies. Residents and businesses are encouraged to monitor the city’s and the district’s websites for emergency information and to receive direct updates through their social media sites:
  • Facebook: City of Dana Point and South Coast Water District
  • Twitter: City of Dana Point (twitter @cityofdanapoint); South Coast Water District (twitter @SouthCoastWater)

Drinking Water in Emergencies

Water is a crucial component of your disaster preparedness kit. Take this fun quiz to reinforce or learn some important information.


Q1. True or False: You can survive without water for up to 10 days, if necessary.

Q2. What is the minimum amount of emergency water you should store per person?

  1. Three cups (one cup a day per person, minimum three-day supply)
  2. Three gallons (one gallon a day per person, minimum three-day supply)
  3. 30 gallons (10 gallons a day per person, minimum three-day supply)

Q3. True or False: Sanitary sewer service is not affected by earthquakes or other disasters.

Q4. What is a Boil Water Order?

  1. What a wife tells her husband to do when she’s having a baby
  2. A doctor’s order to eat boiled vegetables
  3. An emergency notice instructing you to boil your tap water for one minute before drinking or cooking

Q5. A “hidden” source of safe emergency drinking water is the:

  1. Car radiator
  2. Hot water heater
  3. Swimming pool

Q6. Which of the following is most important for you to do to prepare for an emergency?

  1. Clean your house
  2. Stock up on junk food
  3. Develop an emergency plan and assemble a disaster supply kit


Q1, Answer False. Three to five days is the maximum anyone can survive without water. You can actually survive longer without food.

Q2, Answer B. Store one gallon of water per person per day in your household and a minimum three-day supply for everyone. Remember, your pets need water, too. For information on keeping stored water fresh, go to

Q3, Answer False. The District’s sanitary sewer system collects sewage and wastewater from inside your home and conveys it to the treatment plant. The system may become damaged or inoperable during an emergency or disaster. It’s a good idea to include sanitary and personal hygiene items in your disaster supply kit, for example, a five-gallon plastic bucket with lid and plastic bag liners. See checklists of items on, and

Q4, Answer C. If officials notify you to boil your tap water, boil it for a full minute, and let it cool before using. Learn additional ways to disinfect your tap water, in case you’re unable to boil it; go to

Q5, Answer B. Your hot water heater is an ideal source of 30 to 60 gallons of emergency drinking water. Learn the location of your main water line, hot water heater and shut-off valve, before disaster strikes. In an emergency, turn the handle of the shut-off valve clockwise to prevent water from flowing out of your house and back into the main line. See more information on, and

Q6, Answer C. Checklists to help you prepare your family emergency plan and disaster supply kit are available at:,,, and Print a valuable checklist of handy household tips on drinking water during emergencies at

Community Preparedness

If emergency planning and response are of interest to you and you want to see how you can play an important role in your community, consider attending the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course. The next course is at the end this month, you must register and CERT certification requires attendance at all three days of the course. From more information or to register, see or call 949.248.3579.

This column is a cooperative effort of the city of Dana Point and South Coast Water District to cultivate conscious living to protect and preserve our coastal neighborhoods and resources. If you have any suggestions for topics, please feel free to direct questions to or

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (1)

  • Survival is certainly a key focus when preparing for an emergency but don’t leave out the importance on insuring you can recover. Key to recovery is making sure you have the right insurance in place and can fully leverage it in a time of need. In order to fully leverage your home insurance policy you’ll need a home inventory which should only take a few hours to put in place. There are free tools like Encircle ( make the home inventory process as easy as taking picture.

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