The American Red Cross Responds to Wildfires

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    Diane Hermanson, Disaster Mental Health Manager, attended a community meeting in Pateros, Washington. The Red Cross is providing health and mental health services and meeting one-on one with people to determine what other services they need.
  • Wildfires
    Disaster Mental Health Manager Diane Hermanson looks at damaged property from the Washington wildfires. The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started.
  • Wildfires
    Jamie Gravelle of the American Red Cross helps coordinate and plan operations. Red Cross workers remain in close coordination with Emergency Management teams to identify what additional help people may need.
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    Deputy Job Director Chris Boyle working with Operations Assistance Director Howard Ferrucci on the incident map and planning. Photo by Jacqueline Koch, American Red Cross.
People should stay informed about the situation and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

Wildfires have already destroyed almost 300,000 acres in Washington and officials are asking for other states to send firefighters to help put out the flames. The American Red Cross is supporting the affected residents and first responders fighting to extinguish the blazes.

The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started. Many others visit the shelters during the day to get the latest information about the fires and have access to other services.

Red Cross workers have already provided more than 3,200 meals and snacks and the Southern Baptist Convention has opened a mobile kitchen to help the Red Cross distribute meals throughout the affected areas as they are deemed safe. They are also providing health and mental health services and meeting one-on one with people to determine what other services they need.

The Red Cross is also distributing things such as trash bags, heavy work gloves and masks to people who are starting to sift through the ashes where their homes once stood. Red Cross workers remain in close coordination with Emergency Management teams to identify what additional help people may need.

WILDFIRE SAFETY People living near the fires should stay informed about the situation and be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice. Other safety steps include:

  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Be cautious driving in the area - winds can unexpectedly cause poor visibility on the roads.
  • Drivers should also watch for downed power lines and poles.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke. People with health conditions need to take extra precautions.
  • 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 in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning and it is 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 your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
  • WILDFIRE APP You can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App for preloaded content that lets users know what they should do before, during and after a wildfire.

    FIRST AID APP Folks should also download the Red Cross First Aid app to have information on hand about how to handle the most common first aid emergencies.

    Both apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.

    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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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