LOS ANGELES, Sept. 18, 2019 — As California gears up for another wildfire season, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region urges people to get prepared. Last year was the deadliest wildfire season on record for the state; wildfires such as the Camp and Woolsey fires affected thousands and caused billions of dollars in damages. Families are still recovering after the devastating fire ravaged large areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
This year, the Tenaja Fire has already threatened neighborhoods in Murrieta, north of San Diego, and the Walker Fire has been burning in the Plumas National Forest in Northern California since Sept. 4.
The Red Cross wants to remind everyone that as we get deeper into wildfire season, Angelenos should be prepared and ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice in the event of a wildfire.
National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder that we all must take action. Being prepared helps individuals and communities be more resilient — or bounce back — after a disaster. The Red Cross LA aspires to empower people by taking these five actions this month:
- Get a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications.
- Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet — one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a wildfire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
- Be informed – Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work and where you go to school.
- Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so that you can help save a life.
- Download the Red Cross Emergency App which provides real-time alerts, open shelters and expert advice on wildfires. The Emergency App also 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.
“A wildfire can come without warning and spread quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety. Now is the time to prepare, especially if you live in a high-risk wildfire zone,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the Red Cross LA. “Talk with your family about wildfires – how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs. Put together a family disaster kit. Make a plan and practice it.”
Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
- Back your car into the garage or park it outside, facing the direction of your evacuation route.
- Confine pets to 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.
- Don’t use anything that burns, such as candles, fire places and gas stoves.
If you’re trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river or pool.
- Don’t put wet clothing or bandanas over your mouth or nose, as moist air can cause more damage to your airway than dry air at the same temperature.
- 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.
Don’t return home until officials say it’s safe to do so.
- Inspect the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Wildfires may have left embers that could reignite.
- Check your home for embers that could cause fires. Look for signs of a fire including smoke or sparks.
- Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires.
- Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
- Wet down debris to minimize breathing in dust particles.
- Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
- Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
Visit redcross.org/wildfire for full wildfire safety information.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/la or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.