LOS ANGELES, June 9, 2020 – Wildfire season has arrived in southern California. With COVID-19 in mind, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region is ready to respond with its lifesaving mission and encourages Angelenos to review and adjust their emergency plans now.
SEE: Video of Red Cross Wildfire Public Safety Announcement (YouTube)
“Red Cross LA disaster workers are prepared to respond should disaster strike, with new protocols in place,” affirmed Joselito Garcia-Ruiz, Regional Disaster Program Officer for the Red Cross in Los Angeles. “The ongoing pandemic has shifted emergency plans, and it is more important than ever for Angelenos to prepare in advance by taking three simple actions: 1) Get a kit. 2) Make a plan. 3) Be informed.”
To ensure people can evacuate and shelter safely, the Red Cross will prioritize the use of individual hotel or dormitory-style rooms. The Red Cross is working with local emergency management and public health authorities, following CDC guidance, to make sure people have a safe place to stay during a disaster.
Should a wildfire necessitate a large emergency shelter, the Red Cross is prepared to implement additional safety precautions. Measures would include a health screening process for people arriving at a shelter, distribution of free masks to evacuees and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices while in operation. Red Cross shelters opened during the Coronavirus outbreak, will feature additional space between cots and allow evacuees to maintain safe, social distances. For evacuees with symptoms of an infection, isolation-care areas within the shelter will be provided.
Visit redcross.org/wildfire for full information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire. To remain safe in the event of a wildfire during the pandemic, follow these Red Cross guidelines:
MAKE A PLAN Wildfires often force people to leave their homes quickly and travel to a safe place outside the affected area. If authorities advise you to evacuate, be prepared to leave immediately with your evacuation kit (“go bag” of emergency supplies).
- The safety of your home during wildfire season can be significantly increased with proper brush clearance. Now is the time to clean up your yards, create defensible spaces around homes and recycle that debris.
- Plan now if you will need help leaving or if you need to share transportation.
- Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them. Check and see if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they have symptoms or there are higher risk people in their home, make other arrangements. Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open. Find out if your local emergency management agency has adapted its sheltering or evacuation plans.
- Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either.
BUILD A KIT Assemble two kits of emergency supplies and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Start with this basic supply list:
- Stay-at-home kit (2 weeks of emergency supplies): Include everything you need to stay at home for at least two weeks with items such as food, water, household cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.
- Evacuation kit (3 days of supplies in a “go bag”): Your second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. Include everything you need to be on your own for three days:
- Food and water
- Personal hygiene items
- Cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol and disinfecting wipes)
- Cloth face coverings for everyone in your household who can wear one safely. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others in public. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without help.
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- 1-month supply of prescription medication, as well as over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and fever reducing drugs and medical supplies or equipment. Keep these items together in a separate container so you can take them with you if you have to evacuate.
Some supplies may be hard to get, and availability will worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now.
BE INFORMED Have access to weather alerts and community notifications. Be sure that you can receive official notifications even during a power outage. Always follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- Use the Red Cross interactive map to identify likely disasters in your area.
- Learn about your community’s response plan for each disaster and determine if these plans have been adapted because of COVID-19.
- Find contact information for state, local and tribal governments and agencies, and for state emergency management agencies.
- Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities.
Take a First Aid and CPR/Course online to learn what to do in case emergency help is delayed. Download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for your area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. These apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
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.