L.A. families shouldn’t let the COVID-19 crisis make them forget about another danger in our community: Wildfire season. The 1,400-acre Soledad fire in the Santa Clarita Valley earlier this month should serve as a reminder, according to officials.
“A wildfire can come without warning and spread quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety. Now is the time to prepare, especially with COVID-19 affecting our community,” said Joselito Garcia-Ruiz, regional disaster program officer for the Red Cross Los Angeles Region, in a statement after the Soledad fire evacuation orders were lifted. “Talk with your family about wildfires – how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs. Put together a family disaster kit. Make a plan and practice it.”
After a major disaster, families should be prepared with enough food, water and emergency supplies to last up to two weeks until help can arrive, the Red Cross suggests. To learn more visit PrepareSoCal.org and implement these three basic steps:
- Get a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications. Be sure to also include a cloth face covering for everyone in your household who can wear one safely.
- Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet — one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
- Be informed – Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work and where you go to school. Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities.
A wildfire can spread very quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety. The American Red Cross offers these safety steps people should follow:
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
- Back your car into the garage or park it outside, facing the direction of your evacuation route.
- Confine pets to one room, so you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Limit exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
- Don’t use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.
If you’re trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river or pool.
- Don’t put wet clothing or bandanas over your mouth or nose, as moist air can cause more damage to your airway than dry air at the same temperature.
- If there is no body of water, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat, face down, and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.
Don’t return home until officials say it’s safe to do so.
- Inspect the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Wildfires may have left embers that could reignite.
- Check your home for embers that could cause fires. Look for signs of a fire including smoke or sparks.
- Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires.
- Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
- Wet down debris to minimize breathing in dust particles.
- Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
- Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
Download the Red Cross Emergency App for real-time alerts, open shelters and expert advice on wildfires.
- The Emergency App includes an “I’m Safe” feature that help people check on loved ones.
- Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.