Public Safety

Tent Giveaway Inspires Residents to Prepare


For some San Diego residents, responding to a call to register for AlertSanDiego and fill out a Family Disaster Plan was simply a matter of updating provisions and perhaps some phone numbers, but for others it meant starting almost from scratch. Either way, participants in a County disaster preparedness drive agreed they are better off for doing it, and some won a free two-person tent donated by Target stores.

Following the Pledge to Prepare promotion announcement Sept. 10, the Office of Emergency Services emailed the first 2,000 people to register their cell phones for the AlertSanDiego mass calling system and directed them to pick up their tent this week. Hundreds of tents have been distributed so far to those people who brought a copy of their completed Family Disaster Plan and photo identification.

“It was primarily, the fires and flooding in Colorado that made me think, ‘What would we do if that happened in our community?’” said Anna Covici of La Jolla, who claimed her tent Monday.

Covici said she wanted to do more to be prepared and the free tent was a great incentive because they don’t have one. Previously, she had never created a family emergency plan or kit.

She sat down with the Family Disaster Plan template and realized she did at least have most of the emergency items listed—such as a flashlight and radio—around her home. So, it was just a matter of logistics, gathering the items and making sure everyone in the house knew the plan and knew where the kit will be stored in the house.

Covici said she entered their out-of-state contact into everyone’s phones and also printed it out on cards for her four-member family. In a disaster, if local phone circuits were overloaded, family members could report to the mutual contact.

Art Sullano, who also picked up his tent on Monday, said he was mostly already prepared and just had to update his plan and supplies a bit. Sullano, who lives in Chula Vista, said he started getting prepared after the wildfires and the power outage. He said during the power outage, he was able to use a crank operated flashlight and solar lawn stakes to light his home.

“I used it as an opportunity for more preparedness. I have kits for my car and home,” Sullano said. 

Lance Mah, of Rancho Bernardo, said he also already had an emergency plan and kit because he was among those who were evacuated in 2003.

“I didn’t think I was going to have a house to come back to,” Mah recalled. “I didn’t have anything ready. I was scrambling.”

Mah said his best preparedness advice to people is to have their important and valued items ready to go in the event of an evacuation.

Another new County resident, Venus Zayas,  said she was prepared for emergencies when she lived in Contra Costa County, but when she heard the call to prepare, she knew she had to update her emergency plan.

“I like the formatting on this (template) too,” Zayas said, because it was simple and easy to use. The Tierrasanta resident said she also “especially loved the free tent” offer.

Holly Crawford, the County’s Office of Emergency Services director, said the tent giveaway had been a fun way to encourage disaster preparedness. But even though the tents are spoken for, San Diegans have a fundamental reason to prepare, she said.

“We are now in peak wildfire season and every resident should register with AlertSanDiego and complete a Family Disaster Plan; these important steps could make a difference in your family’s safety in a true emergency.”

Visit and click on AlertSanDiego and click on the Family tab to make a plan.


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