Critical wildfire weather is expected in parts of the west over the next several days and the American Red Cross urges people in those areas to get prepared now.
Several regions in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, California, Nevada and Oregon are experiencing windy and dry conditions through the next several days which could lead to wildfires. Wildfires this year have already outpaced what we experienced in 2020 and the threat isn’t over. Thus far, the country has experienced more than 46,000 wildfires which have destroyed almost 6 million acres.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW Have access to alerts and notifications so you can monitor conditions and receive instructions from local officials, even during a power outage. Keep track of fires near you so you can be ready to evacuate quickly. You may have only minutes to get out. Register to receive any free emergency alerts from your community. Understand your community’s plan to notify individuals with disabilities.
- Purchase a battery-powered radio to receive information from local authorities during a power outage.
- 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.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
- Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs.
- Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your house and make sure everyone has those numbers in their cell phones.
- 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.
BE PREPARED TO EVACUATE AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE and obey all evacuation orders from officials. Follow these steps (if time allows):
- Shut all windows and doors. Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
- Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights. Shut off the air conditioning.
- Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, toys, trash cans).
- Turn off propane tanks. Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
- Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
- Back your loaded car into the driveway and keep all doors and windows closed.
- Ensure your emergency supplies kit is in your vehicle.
- Locate your pets and take them with you.
RED CROSS WILL PROVIDE SAFE SHELTER The Red Cross will continue to make sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat and resources to help them recover after a disaster. Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster. In most cases this year, we will open group shelters. However, in some communities, hotels may still be more appropriate if the risk of COVID-19 is particularly high.
The Red Cross will also keep in place many of the safety precautions implemented in 2020. These include masks, health screenings, enhanced cleaning procedures and encouraging social distancing.
YOU CAN HELP PEOPLE affected by wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
RED CROSS HELPING SINCE JUNE Large, devastating wildfires have scorched several million acres and destroyed many homes and other structures. Red Cross disaster workers have been on the ground since June helping people affected by back-to-back massive wildfires.
Since June, we’ve provided more than 19,000 overnight stays. Since the fires began, more than 1,000 Red Cross disaster workers have supported relief efforts in person or virtually. About 100 volunteers are still active across the state today. With the help of partners, the Red Cross has provided nearly 100,000 meals and snacks and distributed some 4,300 relief items including comfort kits, fire kits, and other supplies to help people in need. These kits include items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, cleaning supplies and sifters.
Trained Red Cross volunteers have made 17,000 contacts providing emotional support, health services and spiritual care for people in need. The Red Cross has also provided financial assistance to 940 households — encompassing nearly 2,100 people — who have experienced loss due to the recent California Wildfires.