Red Cross Offers Wildfire Preparedness Tips

In light of the recent wildfire events taking place in Southern California, the American Red Cross has released some safety tips for people who make their homes in woodland settings in or near forests, rural areas, or remote mountain sites.

To begin, Red Cross says homeowners should first meet with their families to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten their area. To protect family, home, and property, homeowners should:

  • Regularly clean the roof and gutters.
  • Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Code 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
  • Use a 1/2-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof, and attic.
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept.
  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.

When a wildfire threatens there won't be time to shop or search for supplies. Homeowners should assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items that may be needed if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, dufflebags, or trash containers. These kits should include:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash, or traveler's checks.
  • Sanitation supplies.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses.
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Assemble a smaller version of your kit to keep in the trunk of your car.

For a complete PDF checklist of preparedness tips, visit www.redcross.org/static/file_cont258_lang0_123.pdf.

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