Emergency Preparedness Tips

With fire season upon us, the Coto Emergency Management Plan Committee put together a handy tip-sheet on understanding Orange County’s alert system as well as emergency water preservation.


AlertOC is a mass notification system used by the County of Orange and participating cities to issue government related messages to residents and businesses. The system has the capacity to send thousands of messages within minutes via phone, e-mail and text.

Sign-up by calling (714) 628-7054 or visit AlertOC.org and select the city or area in which you live and/or work from the map.

ReadyOC is Orange County’s online emergency preparedness resource and contains the information you need to create a kit, make a plan, and be an informed resident of Orange County. Visit ReadyOC.org or download a FREE ReadyOC App for your Android or iOS smartphone.

Red Flag Alert
OC Fire Watch increases public awareness of the fire dangers by raising red “Fire Alert” flags at OC Parks and other County facilities, as well as at OCFA fire stations and participating City Halls throughout Orange County.

Join the OC Fire Watch Volunteers

In Coto de Caza the RED FLAG is displayed at the Sports Park and the Community Service Center (entrance off Oso Parkway) to alert residents when wind, low humidity and high temperatures conditions are at a dangerous level and wildfires are more likely to occur.

Coto Sports Park    Coto Community Center

Emergency Water Preservation

We must be able to access drinking water as a basis for our survival. Your hot water heater tank likely contains an additional 75-100 gallons of drinking water that can be used as long as proper steps are taken to prevent contamination. You will need some basic tools to accomplish these tasks, such as a screwdriver; crescent wrench or pliers; or a readily available gas and water shut-off tool.

Step 1 – Shutting off your water main valve

First identify the location of the valve.  This valve is located at water meter on your property near the street.  It can be identified by a concrete cover approximately 12” x 18”.

Removing this cover will expose the water meter. Note the valve is located towards the street side of the water box meter.  Using a wrench or earthquake-utility-tool, turn the valve 90º which shuts off the water to the home.


Step 2 – Shutting off the gas main

This is a critical skill, especially when you suspect structural damage to your home.  Identify your gas meter, usually found outside of the home near the electrical panel. Turning this valve 90º will shut off the gas to the home. This can be confirmed by noticing no movement in the  gas meter dial and hearing no gas pass through the regulator.

Step 3 – Shutting of the gas water heater

If you are certain there is no situational damage to the home, you may not need to shut off all the gas.  You may only need to turn off the hot water heater.  Turn the top smaller dial to the “OFF” position. This is very important since it will prevent the water heater from heating when and if you drain the water from the tank.  It is insufficient to turn the dial to “VACATION” as this does not completely turn off the heater.

Step 4 – Using the extra water

Once the water has cooled sufficiently, the water can be used as drinking water by opening the hose bib drain (black arrow) located near the bottom of the water heater.  A screwdriver may be needed to turn this valve.  You may need to open a hot water faucet in the house to break the vacuum and allow the water to drain.

(Source: Nellie Gail’s Pony Express, Dr. Kenneth Cheng)

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