Summer’s heat and dry winds can lead to wildfires like the massive ones burning in California, Colorado and New Mexico which have scarred thousands of acres and forced hundreds of people to leave their homes. The American Red Cross offers tips on what to do before, during and after a wildfire so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
WILDFIRE SAFETY STEPS
BEFORE A FIRE OCCURS Remove anything that can catch fire from around your home, garage and outdoor shed, including firewood and propane tanks. If it’s flammable, keep it away from your house, deck or porch. Obey outside burning bans when issued. Other things you can do to be prepared include:
Keep your gutters and roofs clean. Remove dead vegetation and shrubbery from your yard. Keep your lawn hydrated.
Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
Set aside items that can be used as fire tools – a rake, axe, hand or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home. Examples include a small pond, well or swimming pool.
IF A FIRE OCCURS 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:
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.
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:
Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
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.
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.
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 or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.