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Red Cross urges residents to prepare for wildfire season

TUCSON (KVOA) - Amid wildfire season, Arizona is known as “Firearona.” With that, the American Red Cross is spreading the word to every resident to plan now for dangerous wildfires and potential power outages.

“After back-to-back years of record-breaking wildfires, this year it’s more critical than ever to get ready now,” said Mike Sagara, Public Information Officer, Southern Arizona Chapter. “Last year brought not only the pandemic, but massive wildfires in the west that were responsible for 37 deaths and more than $19 billion in damages. Wildfires are dangerous and can spread quickly, giving you only minutes to evacuate. Protect your loved one; get ready now.”

However, getting ready is easy thanks to the Red Cross.

The group has laid out a simple list of steps that residents can follow to be prepared for wildfires.

  1. Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do if you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child's school, your work, and your community's emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required, and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, talk about it again with family members, so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
  2. Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household. If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time to make sure the food and water are still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.
  3. Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a wildfire emergency and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
  4. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations, and safety advice on wildfires and other emergencies. To download the app, search for 'American Red Cross' in your app store or go to redcross.org/apps.

WILDFIRE SAFETY AND PREVENTION

  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
  • Post emergency phone numbers by each phone in your house and make sure everyone has those numbers in their cell phones.
  • Don't drive onto dry grass or brush. Hot components under your vehicle can spark fires.
  • Use equipment responsibly. Lawnmowers, chain saws, tractors, and trimmers can all spark a wildfire.
  • Use caution any time you use fire. Dispose of charcoal briquettes and fireplace ashes properly, never leave any outdoor fire unattended and ensure that outdoor fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
  • If residential debris burning is allowed — use caution. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that burning is not currently restricted in your area.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from the house.
  • Find an outdoor water source such as a pond, well, even a swimming pool, and have a hose that can reach any area of your property.
  • Create a fire-resistant zone free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials for at least 30 feet out from your home.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
  • Make sure driveway entrances and your house number are clearly marked so fire vehicles can get to your home.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Red Cross has procedures and resources in place to help ensure the safety of those that they serve and within their workplace, especially when it comes to the support that they bring to local communities during wildfire emergencies.

The Red Cross is still providing the same type of support after disasters as they have in the past, including ensuring people have a safe place to stay, food to eat, and resources to help them recover while staying aligned with the CDC recommended additional precautions and cleaning procedures.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written up by Brendan Jacques.

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