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Landslides

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 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 ten 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.

Use the following recommendations to help reduce the risk of death, injury and property loss from landslides, mudslides and other types of ground failure at home or work.

Before the Landslide
Reduce the potential impacts of land movement by taking these steps:

- Assume that burn areas and canyon, hillside, mountain and other steep areas are vulnerable to landslides and mudslides.
- 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:

  • Food.
  • Water.
  • 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 the home.

  • Hammer.
  • Nails.
  • Plywood.
  • Rain Gauge.
  • Sand.
  • Sandbags.
  • Shovel.

- 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 changes.

When it Rains

- Monitor the amount of rain during intense storms. More than three to four inches of rain per day, or -inch per hour, have been known to trigger mudslides.
- Look for geological changes near the 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 health and safety and that of family members the number one priority.
  • Make the home the number two priority.
  • Make pools, spas, patios, and other elements the next priority.

-Implement protection measures when necessary.

  • Place sandbags.
  • Board up windows and doors.

Key Consideration

- Use permanent measures, rather than sandbags, if possible.
- Deflect, rather than stop or dam, debris.
- Use solutions that do not create problems for neighbors.

 

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