After back-to-back years of record-breaking wildfires, this year it’s more critical than ever to get ready now. Like the home and apartment fires we respond to every day, wildfires are dangerous and can spread quickly, giving you only minutes to evacuate.
Getting ready is easy with four steps.
Create an evacuation plan. Include in your plan what to do in case you’re separated from your family during an emergency and for evacuation. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do when an emergency occurs.
Build an emergency kit. Include a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household. If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.
Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a wildfire emergency and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
Download the Red Cross Emergency App. Our free emergency app will help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety advice on wildfires and other emergencies. To download the app, search for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or text “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999.
In addition to preparedness, take steps to prevent wildfires.
- Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot components under your vehicle can spark fires.
- Use equipment responsibly. Lawn mowers, chain saws, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildfire.
- Use caution any time you use fire. Dispose of charcoal briquettes and fireplace ashes properly, never leave any outdoor fire unattended, and make sure that outdoor fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
- If residential debris burning is allowed — use caution. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that burning is not currently restricted in your area.
- Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from the house.
- Find an outdoor water source, such as a pond, well, even a swimming pool, and have a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Create a fire-resistant zone free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet out from your home.
- Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number are clearly marked so fire vehicles can get to your home.