Red Cross Responds to Wildfires, Tornado

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
Many states are banning outside burning.

The American Red Cross is helping people in Alaska and California impacted by wildfires and those affected by a tornado that touched down Monday in North Dakota.

In Alaska, a wildfire on the Kenai Peninsula has consumed about 176,000 acres and is only 30 percent contained. Residents in several subdivisions were ordered to evacuate. Red Cross workers opened two shelters and are providing meals and comfort kits to those affected as well as health and mental health services.

In California, a wildfire in Mariposa County has burned about 500 acres and firefighters have been unable to contain the fire. Area residents were forced to evacuate. Red Cross workers are providing shelter, serving meals and distributing comfort kits for those forced to leave their homes.

In North Dakota, a tornado hit an oil workers’ camp without warning, destroying all the campers’ vehicles and forcing them to evacuate from the area in McKenzie County. The Red Cross is providing shelter and meals for those affected.

WILDFIRE SAFETY Dry weather and high winds have caused several large wildfires in the last several weeks. Many states have instituted bans on outside burning. If a fire occurs, listen to your local media for updates 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:

1. Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.

2. Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.

3. Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.

4. 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.

5. 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:

1. Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.

2. Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.

3. Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.

4. Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.

5. 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.

PREPAREDNESS APPS To help prepare for disasters whenever and wherever they may strike, download the suite of Red Cross mobile apps. Popular apps this time of year include the Wildfire App, Tornado App and Hurricane App that include what to do before, during and after the disaster. The First Aid App is another great one to have at your fingertips with expert advice for everyday emergencies such as cuts, burns and other accidents. Download them directly from the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

For information about how to stay safe in many different kinds of emergencies, visit the “Be Prepared” information on this web site.

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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