Skip to Main Content

Emergencies & Your Health

Planning ahead to protect ourselves in a disaster, including people who are medically vulnerable.

Updated frequently during an emergency.

This webpage will be updated with details on major emergency alerts as reported. Look for this icon to find new content fast:

Saturday morning February 3 - Monday morning February 5, 2024 : Flood Watch for Santa Clara County (and much of Northern CA)

Sunday February 4, 4am - 10pm: High Wind Advisory

Preparing ahead for emergencies - wildfires, flooding, bad air, earthquakes, power outages, extreme weather - are now facts of life. Everyone is encouraged to subscribe to local emergency alerts, as the bare minimum. The other webpages in this collection take preparedness some steps further for everyone.

If you or loved ones are dependent on an electrical device, or chronically or severely ill, check out the section for keeping medically-vulnerable people safe during an emergency situation.

Finding information fast when a disaster hits

Santa Clara County -- sign up with AlertSCC to get local emergency alerts on your phone.

Alert SCC

For other counties in our area, find your local warnings by searching with your county name and the word: Alert.

Flood Watch, Flood Warning, Flood Advisory - what do they mean?

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service?

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
    Flash Flood Warnings are changing to an Impact-Based format to improve public response. Read the factsheet.

  • Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring. Put preparations in place; get ready to evacuate if needed (check for road closures and plan exit route); turn off electricity before flood waters reach.

  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur, along with favorable conditions for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible. Prepare ahead: get sandbags if needed, clear sewer drains, report standing water in roads or waterways rising.

  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

To find out if your home or business is in a flood zone, check FEMA's flood zone maps.

This video from Valley Water describes how:

Preparing for a flood is much like preparing for any other emergency, except:

  • To avoid additional problems when water hits power, before waters reach you, turn off electricity and gas at the main switches / valves, and disconnect electrical appliances.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or there is standing water, however!
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car immediately and move to higher ground. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. A foot of water will float many vehicles; two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pick-ups. Remember: turn around, don't drown.
  • Do not try to walk or swim through floodwaters.

See more in the section on Floods and Mudslides in this collection.

Beware Donation Scams

When disasters hit, for many people the first thought after "I'm safe (mostly)" is "How can I help?". Unfortunately, though, for some that second thought is "how can I make a profit from this?".  Scammers feed on our desires to help each other.

If asked for money:

Please be cautious of crowdfunding requests, individuals asking for gift card donations, and other requests for cash or checks. Verify that the organization or company making the ask is legitimate; and dig further into GoFundMe requests before giving. If the funds are supposedly going to a particular charity, call or email that organization directly to ask for confirmation that a third party is fundraising for them.


If asked for material donations (food, blankets or towels, clothing, toys, equipment, etc.):

Double-check with the organization that will be distributing those donations to find out 1) if they are still accepting donations, and 2) if there are limits on what kinds of materials they can accept. Donated items should be clean and undamaged; packaged food items should be within their sell-by date and ideally easy-to-open and ready-to serve.


If you suspect  a scam, please report it!

To find out where and how to report a suspected scam, check these links:

The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators or copyright holders.