Disaster workers from the American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter are on the scene of the Edwards County wildfire for the second day in a row. They are providing food, beverages and support to firefighters and other emergency workers battling the blaze. They expect to continue as long as there is a need.
Edwards County government has opened a shelter at the First Baptist Church at 500 South Texas Highway 55 in Rocksprings, Texas for anyone in need of a safe place to stay due to the wildfire. The Red Cross is supporting the shelter with blankets, cots and snacks.
“Firefighters are doing heroic work in trying to contain the fire and keep residents safe, and it’s our honor to support them in every way possible” said Jacques DuBose, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Serving the Texas Hill Country. “We are working closely with the county to make sure all sheltering needs are met, and are prepared to scale up our support if needed.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for wildfires by:
• Downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Red Cross Emergency App contains tips on how to assemble an emergency kit and how to create a plan so all household members will know what to do in case they can’t make it home or they have to evacuate. “Family Safe” is a unique feature that allows users to notify loved ones who are in an affected area. They can also use the app to let people know that they are safe. The app has a map with open Red Cross shelter locations and a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. Preparedness content is available in English and Spanish. People can download the app in their app store or by going to redcross.org/apps.
• Creating and practicing a wildfire evacuation plan. People should learn about wildfire risks in their area and know what to do if one occurs. Plans should include a place outside the neighborhood in case family members cannot get home or need to evacuate.
• Creating an emergency preparedness kit. Pack a first aid kit and a seven-day supply of essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration, a manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like your insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items for the whole family. Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools (e.g. a rake, ax, shovel, bucket, chain or hand saw).
• Heeding news reports. Listen to local radio and TV stations for updated information. If threatened, be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice as wildfires can be unpredictable. Contain pets to one room so they can be located easily. Back vehicles into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
• Preparing your home. Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean the roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside the home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool. Make sure driveway entrances and the house number or address are clearly marked.
• Limiting exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in. Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner at home or in the car. If it’s too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside the home.
For more information on what to do before, during and after a wildfire, people can go to redcross.org/prepare/disaster/wildfire.
People can also follow the Hill Country Chapter on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hccredcross or visit www.redcross.org/kerrville. We urge area residents to share these Red Cross wildfire preparedness tips with every member of their household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.