By Shannon Randol, contributing writer, American Red Cross
As the second week of National Preparedness Month, this week is dedicated to the prevention of and preparedness for wildfires.
The National Interagency Fire Center reported more than 8 million acres have burned in U.S. wildfires in 2015. And the season isn’t over yet.
California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana are currently fighting more than 65 large fires across their plains and mountain ranges. Acres burned total to a size larger than the state of Maryland, wrote the Washington Post.
Many families find themselves building homes and setting roots in rural, remote and woodland areas. This increases the risk of dealing with wildfires, but the best way to handle with a disaster is to prepare for one.
- Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools in case you need to fight off a small fire before help arrives. Ex: fire extinguisher, ax, rake, bucket, shovel.
- Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home like a small pond, well or swimming pool.
- Practice exit routes out of your home and have a “home base” outside of your neighborhood to meet.
- Educate yourself about the wildfire risks in your area.
- Stay in tune with weather broadcasts.
- Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s house.
- Keep your gutters and roof clear of dry leaves, brush and other materials that are inflammable.
- Download the Red Cross Wildfire App to stay aware of wildfires in your area.
If a wildfire is reported in your area be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Keep your car backed into the garage and pets in one room for fast and efficient evacuation. If you have asthma or a lung condition, stay indoors.
Never eat food that’s been exposed to the heat, soot or smoke!
Do NOT use possibly contaminated water to wash dishes, brush teeth, and prepare food.
You can utilize Safe and Well to let your family members know you’re okay 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 a year. If you don’t have access to Internet or can’t reach family members to let them know you’re okay, call 1-866-GET-INFO.