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Earthquake Preparation Tips for Angelenos With Disabilities

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    NEWSLETTERS

    On Thursday, California will drop, cover and hold for the Great California Shakeout drill. But what do Angelenos do if they can't get down on the ground? Jeff Reeb, with LA County Office of Emergency Management, explains steps people with disabilities can take to protect themselves when the next big temblor hits. Stephanie Elam reports from Downey for the NBC4 News at 9 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2012.

    Ten years ago, Deserie Ortiz suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash. Now, she works with disabled youth and admits she needs to better prepare herself for the Big One, the massive earthquake experts predict will strike Southern California sooner rather than later.

    “I know you are supposed to drop, cover and hold on and things like that but if I drop on the floor, I'm not going to be able to get back up on my wheelchair,” Ortiz said.

    “I just have to do it now. Especially since I am an advocate of my own life and I'm an advocate for others, I need to be an example,” she said.

    MORE: "OK/Help" Earthquake Safety Initiative | Quake Maps, Apps and Pets Preps

    For the wheel-chair bound, safety officials advise dropping, covering and holding on the best way they can – modified instructions with the same urgency.

    "OK/Help" Signs Could Save Time, Lives in Quake Aftermath

    [LA] "OK/Help" Signs Could Save Time, Lives in Quake Aftermath
    Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones says future earthquakes in California are inescapable, but safety officials say what can be controlled is how Angelenos and first responders communicate in the aftermath of the Big One. About 50,000 signs with the word “OK” on one side and “HELP” on the other were distributed across the San Fernando Valley on Monday in an effort to get aid where it’s needed in case of an emergency. Officials say the latest method could save time and lives. Stephanie Elam reports from Chatsworth for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2012.

    “They should lock the wheelchair in place so that it does not move,” said Jeff Reeb, access and functional needs coordinator for LA County Office of Emergency Management.

    If residents are in bed when an earthquake hits, experts advise to use the linens, bedding and paddings to their advantage.

    “I didn't know what I was going to do but I did stay on my bed and that I was not going to move until I felt secure to get on to my wheelchair,” Ortiz said.

    Reeb said when the ground starts shaking, people in bed should pull a pillow or blankets over their head, adding that an emergency kit full of essential items to last at least a week is also a must, especially for people on medication.

    “The kit has to carry them through a period where their normal supplies would not be available,” Reeb said.

    Food and water should be set aside for caregivers and service animals, as well. Safety officials suggest consider registered at snap.lacounty.gov, a volunteer registry for people who identity that they may need extra assistance during disasters or evacuations.

    Ortiz, who is largely independent, admits she knows something she’ll need a hand.

    “I do know that I am a person with a disability and that I am going to need help at times,” she said.

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