California Landslides and Safety

January 10, 2018

Heavy rains in California have caused deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara and Southern California, resulting in 15 deaths so far. This disaster required more than 100 last-minute evacuations and rescues, and over 300 people still remain trapped.

evacuation and rescue during California landslide

Landslides, also referred to as mudslides, are usually caused by heavy rain or rapid snow melt and tend to worsen the effects of flooding. Areas burned by forest and brush fires are usually more susceptible to landslides.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help you stay safe during the event of a mudslide.

Prepare for a Landslide

  • Become familiar with the land around your home and work to understand your risk in different situations
  • Watch the patterns of storm water drainage on slopes near your home and work, especially where runoff water converges
  • Learn about local emergence response and evacuation plans
  • Create and practice an evacuation plan for everyone in your family and your business
  • Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit

Staying Safe During a Landslide

While a Landslide is Occuring

  • If you suspect danger, evacuate immediately and inform affect neighbors in you can
  • Contact your public works, fire department or police department
  • Listen for unusual sounds that may indicate moving debris (trees cracking, boulders knocking together, etc.)
  • Be alert for any sudden changes in water flow if you are near a stream or channel such as an increase or decrease in water flow or a change in color from clear to muddy
  • Be cautious and alert while driving – be on the lookout for collapsed pavement, mud, and fallen rocks for an indication of possible debris flow
  • If you are ordered or decide to evacuate, make sure you don’t forget your pets

During Severe Storms

  • Stay alert and awake – many deaths from landslides occur while people are sleeping
  • Listen to local new stations for warnings of heavy rainfall
  • Consider leaving the area if it is safe to do so

After a Landslide

  • Stay away from the slide area as there may be danger of additional slides
  • Check for injured and trapped people near the slide without entering the direct slide area and direct rescuers to their locations
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance such as infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities
  • Listen to a local radio or television station for updates and information
  • Watch for flooding which often occurs after landslides
  • Look for broken utility lines and report them to appropriate authorities
  • Check the building foundation, chimney and surrounding area for damage which may help you assess the safety of the area

If you would like, you can donate directly to Red Cross to help those affected by disasters.

Landslide insurance is generally not available, but the damage caused by them may be covered by flood insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you were affected by the mudslides, call us at (415)-386-2283 to discuss your options.