The American Red Cross is helping people in Tennessee where raging wildfires have forced them from their homes.
Strong winds are fanning the flames, which have affected as many as 100 homes so far, along with hotels, schools and other facilities in Sevier County. The wildfire is burning in the vicinity of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where as many as 14,000 people were asked to evacuate. Red Cross workers opened three shelters where 1,200 people spent Monday night. The Red Cross is also providing meals and snacks and public health workers in the area are available for health services.
Numerous wildfires are also burning in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Colorado and the Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary.
EMERGENCY APP People should download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to advice on what to do in emergencies and disasters including wildfires. You’ll find tips on how to plan ahead in case a wildfire threatens. The app also contains weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices.
WILDFIRE SAFETY 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:
1. Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
2. Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
3. Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
4. 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.
5. 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:
1. Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
2. Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
3. Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
4. Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
5. 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.
You can find tips like these and other valuable information in the Preparedness section of redcross.org.
HOW TO HELP Assisting people affected by the wildfires is the latest relief response in what has been a very busy year for the Red Cross, which responded to 15 large disasters across the country this year, 50 percent more than in 2015. More than 24,000 Red Cross disaster volunteers from all over the country provided the following this year:More than 200,000 overnight stays in more than 600 shelters Served more than 3.6 million meals and snacks with the help of partnersDistributed more than 1.8 million relief items to people affected by these disasters.
Help people affected by disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.