Tuesday, November 13, 2018 — The American Red Cross is on the ground throughout the State of California, providing shelter, food and comfort for thousands of people forced to leave their homes due to the deadly wildfires burning in both the northern and southern parts of the state.
Red Cross volunteers are providing help and support at evacuation centers to offer safe refuge for people impacted by these devastating fires. Overnight, more than 1,000 people sought refuge from the wildfires in 12 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across the state. People are welcome to come to shelters for help even if they don’t stay overnight.
The Red Cross has deployed enough supplies to shelter as many as 7,000 people, including special equipment to support people with access and functional needs. The Red Cross is also mobilizing relief supplies to serve as many as 15,000 households. Supplies include sifters, personal protective equipment, respiratory masks, rakes, shovels, work gloves, tarps, and other resources.
Watch one couple’s story here.
FINDING LOVED ONES People continue to search for missing loved ones and Red Cross reunification services are helping reconnect them as quickly as possible. These services include helping people communicate through the Red Cross Safe and Well website, as well as helping with urgent requests involving unaccompanied minors and separated children, reestablishing contact with family members who have been separated within the disaster area and working with partners to resolve reunification-related inquiries. There have been just over 5,700 Safe and Well registrations for the wildfires, as many as 63,600 searches, and more than 1,100 matches through Safe and Well.
If someone is looking for loved ones they can visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell. 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.
People can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know their status. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Entire communities and families have been left reeling from these deadly wildfires. Help people affected by the California wildfires by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
HELP IN TRYING TIMES Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved—especially when they cause such massive devastation so close to the holidays. This is a time for people to come together and support one another.
- Mental health experts recommend finding a balance with regard to media coverage. It’s important to stay informed while also limiting exposure, especially for children.
- Also, be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration and anxiety.
- To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746.
WILDFIRE SAFETY STEPS It’s crucial that people listen to local and state officials and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:
- Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it in the car.
- Identify nearby shelter sites and know your routes to get there.
- Create a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
- 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.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.