By Communications and Marketing Intern, Jaylen Moulton
| Every summer, spikes in wildfires occur as the temperature rises and becomes fire-inducing— especially in woodland and mountain areas. People in the Los Angeles area have likely heard about one of the various wildfires that has occurred this year, such as those that spread throughout Burbank or Whittier. In fact, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region recently deployed volunteers to Mariposa, California, to assist with the Detwiler Fire relief efforts and help provide over 1100 overnight stays for local evacuees. While many have seen and heard news on these wildfires, they may not know how to be best prepared, should a wildfire threaten their own home.
Although the American Red Cross will always be ready to help provide food, shelter, and relief supplies, it is also important for the public to know how to handle a wildfire. This means before, during, and after a wildfire, attention should be focused on what needs to be done to ensure the best chances of remaining safe. Here are a few helpful tips— in the event a wildfire does occur in your area.
BEFORE A WILDFIRE: It’s important to learn about the risks of a wildfire in your area. Some areas are more prone to wildfires compared to others. It’s important to understand the level of risk you are in during wildfire season; and, of course, discuss with your family members your potential risk. It’s also good to have emergency phone numbers saved onto your phone and posted in convenient places around the house, such as on the refrigerator or next to a home phone. It is also a good idea to set aside tools that may be used to combat small fires before first responders can arrive to the scene. Choosing fire-resistant materials and plants for your house is also a good precaution to take. This could be the difference between a small or large fire. Like for all emergencies, it is necessary to talk to your family about possible escape routes, and dedicate a safe location to meet. It’s also important to choose someone outside of your home state as an emergency contact, just in case local communications lines go down.
DURING A WILDFIRE: You should always be prepared to leave in the event a wildfire is being reported in your area. This means listening to local radio and TV stations for emergency updates. It’s always a good idea to park your car facing the area of escape for less trouble when evacuating your home. For people with pets: keep them in one room to gather all of them quickly during an evacuation. In order to avoid dust and smoke, listen to updates on air quality and keeping indoor air clean by closing anything that would allow outside smoke to come in (i.e. doors and windows). To avoid smoke from coming in through air conditioners, set them on recycle or re-circulate mode.
AFTER A WILDFIRE: Enter your home only when fire officials determine it is safe for reentry; but, make sure to enter with caution as hazards could still exist. Always avoid downed power lines, poles, and downed wires. If there are ash pits, make sure to mark them and tell family and neighbors to avoid them. To avoid the intake of dust particles, wet down areas with debris. Protecting your hands and feet to avoid getting scratches is also important, and wearing leather gloves and heavy-soled shoes in the aftermath of a wildfire is definitely a good idea. It’s also essential to dispose of anything in your home that might cause danger. As always, do not use water or eat food you suspect may be contaminated.
The American Red Cross Wildfire App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. Click here for a basic wildfire safety checklist that you can print out and keep at home. Stay safe!
Jaylen Moulton will be a Senior at Hawthorne Math and Science Academy. She enjoys drawing, singing and of course, writing! Her college plans include majoring in Psychology and Film Studies. This is Jaylen’s first year interning with the American Red Cross.