The Malibu Foundation hosted the free event at the end of Emergency Preparedness Month
By Emmanuel Luissi
Special to The Malibu Times
To wrap up Emergency Preparedness Month, The Malibu Foundation hosted a free emergency preparedness event for seniors at the Senior Center on Sept. 28 and were provided with FEMA-approved emergency go-bags and a complimentary lunch.
The event was part of National Preparedness Month and added to the calendar of preparedness events being hosted by the City of Malibu.
While organizers expected just under 10 guests, the event was well-attended with 25.
Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation Chairman and CEO Brent Woodworth provided a PowerPoint presentation that provided residents with information on the history of fires in the Malibu area, and tips for preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery from an emergency situation. The presentation was specifically designed to address concerns within the senior citizen community of Malibu.
Woodworth said it is important to provide education on how to improve the mitigation and response to any hazard event. He said it was wonderful to have an event that focused specifically on senior residents and praised their level of engagement.
“This was a very receptive group. They asked a lot of great questions, stayed the entire time and were highly engaged,” Woodworth said.” They’re willing to accept the risk and they want to do something about the risk. They were very interactive; it was a good session.”
Scarlet Eskew, grants and programs manager for The Malibu Foundation, said the event was created specifically to help create a sense of safety among seniors in the community.
The event was created in response to a report published by The Malibu Foundation last year. The report, “Our Climate Crisis,” found that older adults, ages 65 and older, were among the most vulnerable populations in the Santa Monica Mountains in the case of an emergency event.
The report also found the senior population in the region to be approximately 22 percent compared to the Los Angeles County average of just 12 percent.
“We found that a lot of seniors felt their voices weren’t being heard and they weren’t being reached out to so we want to make sure the population is ready, because the next fire is inevitable,” Eskew said.
Eskew said senior residents should be prepared in terms of transportation, having an emergency plan, creating a buddy system with neighbors, and having an emergency bag in a secure place. She said seniors should also consider having personal items ready to go.
“We advise they have medications, photos, the house deed, things like that you can grab and go whenever you need to ,” Eskew said.
Woodworth said senior residents should have a “ready, set, go plan.”
He advised residents to begin with taking measures of home mitigation for possible events like fires. He recommended residents cover all air vents in homes with 1/8th galvanized screening to prevent ember intrusion that is often the cause of homes burning down.
He said residents must have an evacuation plan that has a safe destination, safe transportation, and factors in the time that they have to evacuate and how long it takes to get to a safe location. The plan should also create a process for securing valuable items and having them ready to go.
Residents who are prepared with mitigation measures and an evacuation plan are also urged to be ready to evacuate early for safety.
Woodworth also urged residents to look into community brigades. He said brigades welcome volunteers of all ages and talents, and said seniors could provide valuable skills in preparedness and evacuation.
Ron Wallingford, a retired professor, attended the event and said the event was an invaluable experience. He was interested in the opportunities to be part of emergency preparedness teams in the city.
“I hadn’t even heard of the fire brigade before, and I’m interested in the CERT [Community Emergency Response Team] training. I always want to be helpful,” Wallingford said.
Woodworth urged residents and homeowners to further their education on wildfire preparedness by visiting emergency preparedness websites. He suggested residents visit ReadyforWildfire.org, Fire.CA.gov, Firewise.org, and Fire.lacounty.org.
He also suggested residents visit Malibucity.org for local information on wildfire preparedness.