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Are You Prepared to Evacuate If a Wildfire Threatens?

For those in the affected area, download the Red Cross Wildfire App to let family and friends know you are okay with the customizable “I’m Safe” alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text.

The American Red Cross is supporting communities affected by wildfires in Southern California and the Southwest part of the country, and asks that residents take preparedness steps now in case they need to suddenly evacuate.

RED CROSS RESPONSE The Red Cross is providing comfort and hope to residents across Southern California who have been affected by wildfires – and this support will continue throughout the weekend. On Thursday, the Red Cross had two shelters open with 283 people in the San Diego area where evacuated residents can find a safe place to stay and meals and snacks, as well as emotional support and health services.

In addition, trained Red Cross disaster workers are providing water and snacks at more than a dozen locations to support first responders battling the wildfires and to residents waiting at temporary evacuation points.

As of Thursday night, the Red Cross had already provided more than 5,000 meals and snacks and 275 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes.

More relief supplies, shelter locations and volunteers are ready to help if needed across California and other western states. In the coming days, the Red Cross will continue to work closely with community partners and local authorities to determine what services are needed moving forward.

WILDFIRE APP Personal preparedness is important for residents, as wildfires can break out suddenly with little notice. To prepare, download the free Red Cross Wildfire App.

“It is vital that people know what to do to help protect themselves, their loved ones and their property from wildfires,” said Scott C. Somers, Ph.D., member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and fire management expert based in Arizona. “App users learn what to do before, during and after wildfires which allows them to make critical, life-saving decisions.”

The preloaded content gives users instant access to safety information – even without mobile connectivity, including what supplies to take with you if you need to evacuate. You can also get the latest news from local, state and federal fire agencies in the Wildfire News section.

For those in the affected area, you can let family and friends know you are okay with the customizable “I’m Safe” alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text.

BEFORE A WILDFIRE Remove anything that can catch fire from around your home, garage and outdoor shed, including firewood and propane tanks. If it’s flammable, keep it away from your house, deck or porch. Other things you can do to be prepared include:

  • Keep your gutters and roofs clean. Remove dead vegetation and shrubbery from your yard. Keep your lawn hydrated.
  • Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
  • Set aside items that can be used as fire tools – a rake, axe, hand or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home. Examples include a small pond, well or swimming pool.
  • IF A FIRE OCCURS Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:

  • Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
  • Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
  • Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
  • Use the recycle mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you don’t have air conditioning and it’s too hot to be inside, seek shelter somewhere else.
  • If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.
  • AFTER THE FIRE Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Other things to do include:

  • Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
  • Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
  • Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.
  • More information on what you should do to be ready for wildfires, including what you should pack to evacuate, is available in the preparedness section of this website.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.