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Natural Disasters

Orange County residents can best cope with natural disasters by preparing in advance. While Orange County enjoys a fairly stable climate, residents are not immune to natural disasters such as extreme heat and severe weather.

Extreme Heat

Orange County regularly experiences heat waves, which can be particularly dangerous for children, seniors, residents with cardiovascular disease, or those taking psychotropic and other medications. Heat waves can even cause casualties when the situation is severe. We enjoy the benefits of modern amenities, such as air conditioning and ice dispensers, but what do you do when these services fail?

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Severe Weather

Like many other parts of the country, Orange County sometimes experiences rainstorms, hail, flash flooding, high winds, thunderstorms, and lightning. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities—more than 140 annually—than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Some 90 percent of all presidentially-declared disasters across the U.S. are weather-related, and account for around 500 deaths and nearly $14 billion in damage per year.

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Severe drought can increase the risks of other disasters such as a wildfire, landslide, or flash flood. In recent years, temperatures have steadily risen, while the amount of rainfall has decreased. Since California’s water supply is scarce, we all need to do our part to become more efficient in our water use. 

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A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes do not occur often in Orange County as in other parts of the country, but they do happen.

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Every year California experiences approximately 500 earthquakes that are large enough to be detected and felt by local residents. Since Orange County has a number of seismic faults, earthquakes are almost an expected part of living here. Residents should be prepared by identifying safe places in each room of their homes and taking other precautions, such as securing furniture and checking for gas leaks.

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Wildfires are among Orange County’s leading disasters because the terrain is prone to brush fires in the hot summer months when vegetation is dry. Residents in all sections of the county should take steps to make their homes less vulnerable to wildfires.

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Flooding is one of Orange County’s most likely disasters. Flash floods can strike any time with little or no warning turning Orange County streets and freeways can into rivers within seconds. Most flash flooding is caused by heavy rains concentrated over the same area and also from run-off from local hillsides and clogged storm drains.

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Landslides, also known as mudslides or debris flow, occur frequently in Orange County. These disasters can be caused by a variety of factors including earthquakes, storms and fires. Landslides can occur quickly, often with little notice, and the best way to prepare is to stay informed about changes in and around your home that could signal that a landslide is likely to occur.

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Tsunamis are series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated by disturbances associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor. Remote tsunamis have been the most frequent to hit California and are generated by earthquakes off the coasts of Japan, Alaska, Hawaii and Chile.

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A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of individuals. Pandemics often create social disruption, economic loss, and general hardship, as they tend to be caused by a new virus or a strain of virus that is extremely infectious.

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