Wildfire Preparedness What Should You Do

Red Cross Orange County Wild Fires
Get prepare and download the free Red Cross Wildfire App.

With wildfires blazing in four states in the past 24 hours, the American Red Cross encourages families and individuals to take preparedness steps now before a wildfire threatens their home or community.

Tuesday night, wildfires caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of homes in Southern California, as well as homes in New Mexico and Arizona. Meanwhile, the grassfire in the Texas panhandle continues to burn and threaten homes. These hot, dry and windy conditions are forecast to persist through Thursday in parts of the Southwest.

WILDFIRE APP 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. You can also get the latest news from local, state and federal fire agencies in the Wildfire News section.

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. Obey outside burning bans when issued.

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.
  • Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
  • 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.
  • Nearly 45 million homes in more than 72,000 communities across the United States are near woodlands and could be affected by a wildfire. Click Here for more information on what you should do to be ready for wildfires.

    Tags: Wildfire Safety 2014.

    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.