Fast-moving wildfires continue to burn in Southern California and the American Red Cross is there, providing shelter, food and relief services to people impacted by the fires. Overnight, almost 590 people took refuge from the fires in12 Red Cross and community shelters.
Four large wildfires are impacting people’s lives. As of Thursday morning, around 20,000 homes are threatened by out of control fires, scorching more than 109,000 acres already in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for more than 181,000 residents. Many schools are closed in the region and major highways around the are also closed due to the fires. Thousands are without power.
Dangerous fire conditions are expected continue for the next several days with strong Santa Ana winds worsening the situation. The Governor of California has declared a State of Emergency.
In addition to providing shelter and food, the Red Cross is moving additional disaster workers, cots, blankets and emergency supplies to the affected counties. Red Cross volunteers are working to ensure that everyone – including children, the elderly, and those with special needs – get the best possible help during this challenging time. The Red Cross is also working closely with government and community partners to coordinate relief efforts.
HOW TO FIND A SHELTER The Red Cross urges everyone to follow evacuation orders from local law enforcement and to have an emergency kit ready to go. If someone needs to find a shelter or other help, they should follow their local media or go to redcross.org and check the shelter map. People can also find a shelter by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App, which also puts wildfire safety tips at their fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters. People do not need to be American citizens to receive Red Cross assistance. The Red Cross is working with partners to provide care for evacuated pets. Anyone who needs a safe place to stay should come to an evacuation shelter, and suitable accommodations will be found for household pets. Service animals and therapy pets are welcome at Red Cross shelters.
WILDFIRE SAFETY People should listen to their local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Other wildfire safety steps include:
- Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape.
- 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.
STAY CONNECTED WITH LOVED ONES Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell to reconnect with loved ones. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876.
You can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know your status.
HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters big and small, like wildfires and countless other crises, by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.