Using the Red Cross as a resource during wildfire season
SPOKANE, Wash. — From house fires to wildfires, we typically hear about the Red Cross at the end of the story — coming to the aid of those who have lost everything.
But the Red Cross can also be a resource in fire preparedness and safety: how to be ready for one, what to do when a fire is happening and what to do after and if you’ve been affected.
During wildfire season, the Red Cross says it’ is more important than ever to use these resources and to have a plan.
Know where to get your information. This can be on local television, radio, or local emergency management groups online and on social media.
You can also download the Red Cross app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
When staying informed, always listen to and follow evacuation orders.
FIND YOUR ESCAPE ROUTES
The Red Cross wants you to have at lease two planned escape routes in case one is closed from the fire or for another reason.
It’s also good to know if your neighborhood or community has specific escape routes out of the area. Learn what they are beforehand.
HAVE A POINT OF CONTACT OUT OF THE AREA
Make sure your point of contact is far enough away to not also be impacted by evacuation orders.
Share where this point of contact is with your family so you all know where to meet up.
PREPARING YOUR FAMILY
Have at least three days of supplies:
- Non-perishable food for entire family
- Basic first aid kit
- Masks in case of smoke
- Medications for entire family
- Critical documents like social security cards
If you need to go to a Red Cross shelter, think about bringing:
- Power cord for electronics
- Extra clothing
- Comfort items for kids, like stuffed animals or games
PREPARING YOUR HOME
In the case of a wildfire where you might possibly evacuate, make sure to:
- Shut all windows and doors, remove flammable curtains or window shades
- Shut off air conditioning and gas at the meter (if you have it)
- Gather flammable furniture in the middle of rooms, away from doors and windows
- Remove any flammable debris from around your home, especially from your roof and gutters
- Leave your lights on so firefighters can more easily see your home in smoky conditions
- Turn off propane tanks and, if possible, move BBQ appliances away from your home
- Don’t leave sprinklers on as that could affect critical water pressure
- Have car backed into driveway and ready to load with family, emergency kit, and pets.
Don’t return home until authorities have determined it’s safe to do so.
If you’re coming back to an area that’s been burned, be especially careful as many hazards may exist, including hotspots.
Avoid damaged or fallen power lines and poles.
Throw away any food you think might be compromised or contaminated by hear, smoke or soot. Same goes for water.
If you’re cleaning up fire damage in and around your home, always take pictures beforehand and document all of your possessions.
Always wear a mask and follow other public health guidance. Only have adults clean up the debris.
If there’s no power, check your breakers. If they’re flipped and you still have no power, contact your utility company.
Inspect the roof immediately — you don’t want anything to fall on you or your family members.
Immediately put out any sparks or embers on the roof.
Even several hours after returning home, check your home and check again, including your attic, for smoke and sparks.
RED CROSS RESOURCES
If you’re ever in need of immediate help or need a shelter, you can contact our local Red Cross.
For more information on wildfire safety from the Red Cross, see the website.
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