Experts report the 2021 wildfire season could be very bad due to the drought in the western states which has led to the third driest year on record. The American Red Cross urges everyone to prepare now.
San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory describes the outlook for the 2021 fire season as “grim,” with forests seeing record dry conditions. This report comes after the record-setting wildfire season last year which caused 37 deaths and more than $19 billion in damages, scorching more than eight million acres across the US.
Wildfires are dangerous and can spread quickly, giving you only minutes to evacuate. Protect your household, get ready now.
GETTING READY IS EASY Take these simple steps to be prepared:
- Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household.
- If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If you already have an emergency plan, talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
- Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.
- Download the free Red Cross app “Emergency” to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety advice on wildfires and other emergencies. The Red Cross First Aid app provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
WILDFIRE SAFETY AND PREVENTION
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
- Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your house and make sure everyone has those numbers in their cell phones.
- Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot components under your vehicle can spark fires.
- Use equipment responsibly. Lawn mowers, chain saws, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildfire.
- Use caution any time you use fire. Dispose of charcoal briquettes and fireplace ashes properly, never leave any outdoor fire unattended, and make sure that outdoor fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
- If residential debris burning is allowed — use caution. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that burning is not currently restricted in your area.
- Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from the house.
- Find an outdoor water source such as a pond, well, even a swimming pool, and have a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Create a fire-resistant zone free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet out from your home.
- Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number are clearly marked so fire vehicles can get to your home.
More information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire is available here.
COVID-19 SAFETY As the pandemic continues, the Red Cross has procedures and resources in place to help ensure everyone’s safety, especially when it comes to sheltering during a disaster. When possible, we will continue prioritizing individual hotel rooms or dormitory style rooms to make sure people have a safe place to stay—in situations and events where fewer than 2,500 households are evacuated.
For larger scale disasters and evacuations, the Red Cross is prepared to open emergency shelters and has additional precautions in place such as a mask requirement for everyone, a health screening process for everyone entering the shelter, social distancing and additional cleaning and disinfecting practices and more.