Wildfires have a dramatic impact on communities throughout California and here in the Los Angeles area – burning tens of thousands of acres of land and in some cases forcing families from their homes.
When there is a need, the American Red Cross is there. Disaster responders help people affected by disasters such as wildfires by providing food, water and relief supplies for affected residents and emergency responders. Red Cross responders work one-on-one with people affected by wildfire to create recovery plans, replace essential items such as clothing and groceries and help them apply for government and other community assistance. Disaster mental health specialists help wildfire survivors deal with the emotional challenges of recovery and cope with the aftermath of the disaster.
Recovering from a wildfire takes time and a diverse network of organizations and services to make sure people have the help they need. Long after a disaster strikes, the Red Cross continues to help families recover by helping to a network of community support.
BEFORE A WILDFIRE
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.
Nearly 45 million homes in more than 72,000 communities across the United States are near woodlands and could be affected by a wildfire. Click Here for more information on what you should do to be ready for wildfires.