Devastating wildfires are burning across 11 states, in some cases forcing people to flee their neighborhoods with little or no notice. The American Red Cross is responding across several states, providing shelter and comfort to those affected.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports 12 new large fires started Monday alone. Since January, more than 30,000 wildfires have burned more than 1.1 million acres across the United States. Large fires are burning in Arizona (13), New Mexico (12), Alaska (9), California (5), Idaho, Oregon and Montana (4), Texas (2) and Wyoming, Utah and Washington (1).
The Red Cross reminds everyone that it is critical to listen to the advice of local authorities and evacuate immediately if asked to do so. For those who have already evacuated, don’t return home until officials say it is safe to do so.
If someone is impacted by these fires, they can find a shelter by visiting redcross.org/shelter or downloading the Red Cross Emergency app for real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and expert advice on wildfires. The app includes an “I’m Safe” feature that help people check on loved ones. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.
Anyone coming to a Red Cross emergency shelter should bring personal items for each member of their family, including prescription and emergency medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. It’s also important to bring special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, and other items for family members who have unique needs.
A wildfire can spread very quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety.
Back your car into the garage or park it outside, facing the direction of your evacuation route.
Keep your pets in one room, so you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
Limit exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
If you are trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river, or pool. If there is no body of water, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat, face-down and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.
You can find more wildfire safety information here.
CLIMATE CRISIS Wildfires — along with the ongoing heat wave ─ are clear examples of how the intensity of climate-rated disasters is worsening. Some experts say with the arrival of El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, the situation may get worse. As these extreme weather disasters increase, more people need help from the Red Cross. Find out more about the Red Cross and its work on the climate crisis here.
WILDFIRE PREVENTION Sadly, people cause 85% of wildfires by burning debris, using equipment improperly, discarding cigarettes carelessly, leaving campfires unattended or intentionally setting a fire. To help prevent wildfires, follow these critical tips:
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.