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Wildfire safety: Conditions in the West indicate high risk, American Red Cross advises preparedness

October 31, 2023
Wildfire haze

Dry vegetation combined with strong winds spanning from California to several southwestern states has resulted in red flag fire warnings.

The American Red Cross has released guidance suggesting immediate actions for individuals to ensure readiness should a wildfire erupt in their vicinity.

Critical conditions across states

California, particularly from Los Angeles up to San Francisco and the Bay Area, is observing potential strong winds.

Consequently, Los Angeles has initiated parking restrictions, ensuring roads remain accessible for possible evacuations.

Moreover, due to these conditions, there’s a likelihood of power outages, as utility companies may shut off power to avert fires from live lines being affected by wind.

Similarly, Nevada and Arizona are witnessing critical fire conditions. The public is urged to exercise utmost caution to prevent inadvertent ignition of wildfires.

Steps to ensure wildfire safety

To safeguard your family during a wildfire, the Red Cross recommends these measures:

  1. Draft an evacuation strategy: Organize measures in the event family members get separated during a crisis, and in case evacuation becomes necessary. This plan should align with your child’s school, workplace, and community emergency procedures. It’s also important to know various routes to shelters, register any family members with special medical needs, and arrange for pets. If a pre-existing emergency strategy is in place, it should be reviewed and updated as necessary.
  2. Assemble an emergency kit: This should include essentials like water (a gallon per person daily), non-perishable food, flashlight, battery-operated radio, first aid kit, and important documents among others. Given the ongoing pandemic, masks for all household members should also be included.
  3. Stay informed: Understand how local officials will notify residents during a wildfire emergency, including any potential evacuation orders.

Additionally, the Red Cross has made available a free First Aid app to assist in emergencies, and an Emergency app for alerts and safety guidelines.

Both are accessible in English and Spanish.

For easy access, they can be found on smartphone app stores or by visiting their official site.

Key pointers for wildfire prevention

Regrettably, human actions contribute to about 85% of wildfires.

These actions can range from careless discarding of cigarettes to equipment misuse.

Some preventive tips include avoiding driving vehicles over dry grass, using equipment responsibly, and ensuring complete extinguishment of outdoor fires.

The role of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP)

The ADGP, in collaboration with Disaster Responder members, fortifies the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts.

Their continuous support ensures the Red Cross can promptly respond to any disaster, tending to the needs of affected individuals and families.

FSJA Comment

Wildfires present a serious risk to communities, homes, and the environment.

The statistics and guidelines provided by the American Red Cross highlight the criticality of being prepared and proactive.

The emphasis on personal responsibility in preventing wildfires is a crucial reminder for all.

Taking the steps now can make a significant difference in the outcome should a wildfire threaten a community.

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