Public Safety

Personal Disaster Plans to Be Mailed to Residents in Areas of Severe Fire Risk

A cover page of the new Personal Disaster Plan guide which shows various scenes in San Diego County.
A new updated Personal Disaster Plan is available for San Diego County residents to learn what to do before, during and after a disaster.

Do you have a plan if there’s a wildfire? Or any emergency? The County of San Diego is mailing a Personal Disaster Plan to residents who live in the areas of highest fire danger in our community. Read it when you get it, discuss it with your family, complete it and practice it.

Then when an emergency occurs, you and your family will know what to do and can avoid delays in getting everyone to safety.

San Diego County officials on Friday asked residents to be on the lookout for an updated 16-page plan which serves as a template and guide for emergency planning for your home or business. Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses in areas designated as high fire hazard severity zones will receive the guides in the mail starting the week of Oct. 28. English and Spanish-language Personal Disaster Plans will be printed and available at the San Diego County Library’s 33 branch locations in November. The guides are also online now in English and Spanish.

“This is the most dangerous time of the year. This is when some of our biggest wildfires have happened,” said Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “While the County has done a lot to prepare for wildfire, and we’re better prepared than we’ve ever been, the fact remains that our region is only one bad Santa Ana wind away from another disaster. Residents and businesses must do their part, too. Our bigger, better Personal Disaster Plan guide will help them do that.”

In addition to disaster preparedness and immediate safety tips to be used during various emergencies, residents can note important information such as medical conditions or equipment and medications, phone numbers for police or fire, personal doctor, power or water company, emergency contacts including at least one out-of-state person, and an evacuation plan for their home. A written plan is important if mobile phones don’t work or the internet is down.

A map of San Diego County showing areas considered very high fire hazard severity zones.
The areas in red are very high fire hazard severity zones in San Diego County.

“Just two years ago, we conducted a county survey and found that only 50% of San Diego County residents felt they were prepared to evacuate within 15 minutes. And only 38% had an emergency plan,” said San Diego County Office of Emergency Services Director Holly Porter. “Everyone needs to prepare for emergencies and have some basic plans in place to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.”

The disaster plans were last mailed out to residents in 2006, but have been available online in various languages, handed out at preparedness events and on request to residents and partnering agencies. Porter said the Office of Emergency Services has redesigned and updated the guides to include:

  • Expanded hazard information.
  • Additional preparedness and response tips for wildfires, home fires, earthquakes and flooding.
  • More emergency kit items.
  • Information about alert and warning systems such as the County’s AlertSanDiego and Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • Defined important disaster terminology used in San Diego County such as: evacuation orders, warnings and shelter-in-place.

“Do not wait for a disaster to make a plan, because it will cost you and your family time that you may not have,” said Deputy Chief Nick Schuler, CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire. “Preparing for any type of disaster includes creating a Personal Disaster Plan. The plan will help you address all the individual steps to take before, during and after an emergency.”

For more resources, visit ReadySanDiego to make a plan, register for AlertSanDiego, download the free SDEmergency App, and use the Know Your Hazards tool to check for hazards in your neighborhood. For more information about wildfire preparedness, read the Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Preparedness Guide available in English and Spanish or the CAL FIRE web site.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact