As Tropical Storm Hilary hits Southern California, officials are urging Californians to be prepared for a number of scenarios, most notably power outages and evacuations.

According to Red Cross Los Angeles Chief Operating Officer Gerald Thomas, trained responders are actively planning recovery efforts and have opened several shelters in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, plus partner shelters that have opened in Los Angeles County. 

“It’s not too late…to take this storm seriously,” Thomas said. “You want to have a kit; you want to have a plan and you want to make sure you stay informed.” 

The kit, Thomas said, should contain at least one gallon of water per person in the household per day. Additionally, flashlights, batteries and nonperishable food are recommended items to put in the evacuation kit. 

“If you’re going to evacuate, you want to make sure you take items that will help make your little ones or furry friends comfortable,” he said. “[That could be] stuffed animals, blankets, puzzles, books or things that can keep them occupied and help them stay comfortable.” 

Another essential and often overlooked step is to make copies of important documents and bring them with you if you evacuate, as they can be destroyed in a natural disaster. 

“Also make sure you have cash,” Thomas added. “Because if the power goes down, there’s no point of sale.” 

The Red Cross has an emergency app that allows users to track emergency notifications, locate nearby shelters and help individuals put together a plan. Users can also designate the app to focus on certain areas, which assists family and friends outside the state in keeping track of their loved ones. 

Red Cross shelters are available for all who need them, Thomas said.  

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For more information, including shelter locations, safety tips and weather updates, download the Red Cross app or visit their website