Now is the Time to Prepare for Wildfire Season
Since Sunday, March 28, Red Cross relief workers have responded to wildfires in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Supporting the immediate needs of people evacuated from affected areas as well as coordinating with emergency response partners have been our primary activities.
Working with our local partners, we opened a temporary evacuation center at the South Canyon Baptist Church at 3333 W. Chicago St. in Rapid City where people can gather and get the latest information. We're providing meals, snacks, water, and resources for evacuated residents at the center until 8 p.m. MT on Tuesday, March 30 and from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. MT on Wednesday, March 31. Residents in need of Red Cross disaster relief assistance can also call 1-844-29-CROSS (1-844-292-7677).
Wildfires can change directions quickly, especially in high wind conditions, so we encourage everyone to heed official warnings and evacuation recommendations throughout this wildfire season.
“We’re continuing to monitor the situation across our region and we’re ready to ramp up our response as the situation evolves,” says Katie Webster, Regional Disaster Program Officer for the American Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region. "The Red Cross urges those in wildfire, grassland, and wildland fire danger areas to follow safety steps, including preparing for evacuation."
The National Weather Service asks people in ‘red flag’ areas to avoid outdoor burning. A ‘red flag’ warning means conditions exist that could lead to fires. Warm temperatures, low humidity and strong winds combine to heighten the possibility of wildfires and any fires that start with these conditions can spread quickly and become uncontrollable.
People should also:
- Avoid burning yard waste or rubbish unless it’s allowed by your municipality.
- Avoid burning anything highly combustible, including paper or fabric soaked in oil or gasoline.
- Cover any burn barrels with a weighted metal cover with holes no larger than ¾ of an inch and follow burn rules in their community.
- Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
- Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.
- Don’t park a hot car or other machine in dry grass.
- Don’t allow gasoline or motor oil to spill on grass or other vegetation.
Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice
Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or medical supplies. Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest wildfire information. Find more information on the Red Cross wildfire safety page.
Download the Red Cross Emergency App
The free Red Cross Emergency App helps keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, shelter locations and safety advice. Help Keep Your Family Safe. This app lets you monitor for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts in your town, and other cities that matter to you. It also allows you to learn how to prepare your family and home, check if loved ones are safe and let them know you’re safe. Select English or Spanish language with an in-app toggle. Compatible with mobile phones as well as Apple Watch and Android Wearable devices.
About the American Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region
Our region serves more than 7.3 million people. More than 2,000 volunteers, including more than 130 youth volunteers, ensure that the Red Cross fulfills its mission in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. By helping people learn how to take care of their families and neighbors, the Red Cross strengthens communities and readies them for all types of disasters, including home fires, tornadoes, winter storms and health emergencies. As a community-based humanitarian organization, the Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Learn more on our blog.