2004, VOL. IX, ISSUE 2
E M E R G E N C Y S U R V I V A L P R O G R A M
||The ground can move without a quake!
When most Californians think about ground movement, they
probably envision images of the ground below them moving from
side to side, or up and down, during an earthquake.
After large-scale wildfires, areas left barren of grasses, plants,
shrubs and trees are vulnerable to landslides through sliding,
falling and flowing soil, rock, mud, brush and trees, particularly
during and after heavy rains. Therefore, it's important that
residents of steep hillsides and canyons prepare for slides.
Slow-moving landslides can cause significant property damage,
but they usually don't cause any deaths. Mudslides, however,
are much more dangerous.
|According to the California Department of Conservation, mudslides can easily exceed speeds of 10 miles per hour and often flow at rates of more than 20 mph. Because mudslides travel much faster than landslides do, they can cause deaths, injuries and significant property damage. Wherever you live, work or play, use the recommendations below on this Focus Sheet to help reduce your risk of death, injury and property losses from landslides, mudslides and other types of ground failure.
Before the Landslide
You can reduce the potential impacts of land movement by
taking steps to remove yourself from harm’s way:
□ Assume that burn areas and canyon, hillside, mountain
and other steep areas are vulnerable to landslides and
□ Build away from steep slopes.
□ Build away from the bottoms or mouths of steep ravines
and drainage facilities.
□ Consult with a soil engineer or an engineering geologist to
minimize the potential impacts of landslides.
□ Develop a family plan that includes:
□ Out-of-state contact
□ Place to reunite if family members are separated
□ Routes to evacuate
□ Locations of utility shut-offs
□ Store the following emergency supplies:
□ First aid kit
□ Flashlights and batteries
□ Battery-operated radios
□ Special medications/eye care products
□ Store an evacuation kit that includes:
□ Cash (small bills and change)
□ Important documents
□ Birth certificates
□ Insurance policies
□ Marriage certificates
□ Mortgage documents
□ Irreplaceable objects
□ Games, toys for children
□ Purchase supplies to protect your home:
□ Rain gauge
□ Limit the height of plants near buildings to 18 inches.
□ Use fire-retardant plants and bushes to replace chaparral
and highly combustible vegetation.
□ Water landscape to promote early growth.
□ Eliminate litter and dead and dry vegetation.
□ Inspect slopes for increases in cracks, holes and other
□ Contact your local public works department for information
on protection measures.
When it Rains
□ Monitor the amount of rain during intense storms. More
than three to four inches of rain per day, or 1/2-inch per
hour, have been known to trigger mudslides.
□ Look for geological changes near your home:
□ New springs
□ Cracked snow, ice, soil or rocks
□ Bulging slopes
□ New holes or bare spots on hillsides
□ Tilted trees
□ Muddy waters
□ Listen to the radio or watch television for information and
instructions from local officials.
□ Prepare to evacuate if requested to do so.
□ Respect the power of the potential mudslide. Remember,
mudslides move quickly, can cause damage and kill.
□ Prioritize protection measures:
□ Make your health and safety and that of family
members the number one priority.
□ Make your home the number two priority.
□ Make pools, spas, patios and other elements the next
□ Implement protection measures when necessary:
□ Place sandbags
□ Board up windows and doors
□ Use permanent measures, rather than sandbags, if possible.
□ Deflect, rather than stop or dam, debris.
□ Use solutions that do not create problems for your neighbors.
Extracted and adapted from the Los Angeles County
Department of Public Works publication “Homeowners Guide for
Flood, Debris and Erosion Control” and the California
Department of Conservation publications “Hazards from
Mudslides—Debris Avalanches and Debris Flows in Hillside and
Wildfire Areas” and “Landslide Facts.”