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City of Goleta wants residents to make a plan, offers course in disaster preparedness

Goleta City Hall 2022.jpg
Beth Thornton
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The City of Goleta now offers a free one-hour course to the community for disaster preparedness.

The City of Goleta is now offering a one-hour disaster preparedness course to residents, community groups, and businesses.

Talking about and preparing for disaster — whether it's fire, flood, or other emergency — is not exactly pleasant. But it’s extremely important, according to Goleta’s Emergency Services Coordinator Michael Baris.

“Disaster preparedness – it’s a scary thought and my whole job is to make that approachable,” Baris said.

This area has unique threats as experienced in the Thomas fire and debris flow, as well as the more recent Alisal Fire.

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City of Goleta
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Goleta Emergency Services Coordinator Michael Baris teaches the course on disaster preparedness. He says having a go bag and an evacuation plan can reduce stress during a stressful time.

To help residents prepare, the City now offers a one-hour disaster preparedness course free of charge. Baris brings the course to the Goleta community. He said he’s already been to retirement communities and a mobile home park. The course, he said, covers the basics and gets the conversation started.

“How does a notification system work, what do you need to think about, have you considered pets and family and documents,” he said.

Baris said making an evacuation plan with family members and having a go-bag ready before a disaster happens, can save time and reduce confusion. He says a go-bag should include essentials to get you through the first 72 hours of a disaster.

“It is a bag that is ready to go – a backpack, something to throw old clothes into, water, some protein bars, contact information, potentially medications that you know you might need,” he said.

Baris said signing up to receive emergency notifications is something everyone should do as an easy first step.

The community disaster education course is available to groups of ten or more and is arranged using a request form on the City of Goleta website. The course will soon be offered in Spanish, too.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.