KBR Safety Information Sheet

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Preparing for El Niņo

  What El Niņo Is

El Niņo is the warming of ocean currents in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This warmer water increases air moisture and affects weather. When El Niņo is active, there is a greater than normal probability of monsoon like rains along the Pacific coast of California. These rains, if they develop, can result in small urban streams and washes overrunning their banks as well as regional and large scale flooding.

While we needn't get hysterical about El Niņo, we should be aware of its possible impacts and plan accordingly.

  What You Can Do

Prepare your home and contents. Open drains and keep ditches and other water collection ways clear of leaves and debris.

Prepare emergency provisions. Since electric power may be affected, store up plenty of flashlight batteries and if you are on a well or booster pump, store several gallons of bottled water. Also store some "long life" non- refrigerated provisions. Localized flooding, mud slides and downed trees may prevent you from moving about the community by automobile until local public works and emergency services workers can mobilize and get roadways cleared.

If your home is subject to seepage problems during heavy rains, it would be wise to consider purchasing a portable electric submersible pump to which a garden hose can be attached. Around 1000 gallons per hour capacity should be adequate supplied by a durable, water resistant extension cord. These pumps tend to get hard to find once the rains get heavy!

If your property is low lying or is impacted by high runoff volumes, know where to find sandbags and other emergency provisions. Check with local emergency service agencies before you have an emergency and know where to tune for emergency broadcasts and official information.

  Getting Help

In most locales the local fire department or public works agency will respond to flooding calls so long as they have personnel available and are not committed to higher priority calls. Such agencies can assist in some cases with water diversion, water removal and checking the safety of storm damaged utility lines, etc. During peak storm activity these agencies may receive dozens of calls so they have to "triage" their responses, assigning priorities to those calls which involve life safety first, then property damage based on potential loss and the amount of benefit we think the agency thinks it can provide under the circumstances.

Thus, while most public agencies will do the best that they can to help you, you do need to think about being as self-sufficient as you can.

Calling for Help

Know the non-emergency number to use to reach your local public safety communications center. If you have a storm related problem and it is not a life threatening emergency or fire, you should use the dispatch center's non-emergency line.

If the dispatch center is inundated with calls and you can't get through, try reaching the business office of your local fire or police services. During emergency conditions most agencies will try to keep the phones staffed as best they can.

If you suspect a serious property threat or life safety problem, go ahead and dial 9-1-1 (or your local emergency number if 9-1-1 is not active in your area.)

  Related Storm Links

Animations of the Current El Niņo Event

El Niņo FAQs

Winter Weather & Storm Preparedness

CERES Weather and Road Conditions / Contra Costa County

Breaking Weather Presented by The Weather Channel

Northern California Doppler Radar

Western Satellite Imagery

Regional Precipitation Imagery

Contra Costa County Weather

CalTrans Highway Conditions

  National Storm Links

Atlantic Hurricane Satellite Loop

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