The devastating wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, are a wake-up call that we all need to prepare for wildfire season in Idaho. Most communities are at risk for wildfires — burning embers can travel far and cause wildfires almost anywhere — even in large urban areas. To make sure that you and your family are prepared for whatever happens this summer, follow these tips from the American Red Cross.
Download the Red Cross Wildfire App. The free app is a great tool to have at hand — it tells you what to do before, during and after a wildfire, and sends you critical alerts when you need them. It also gives you instant access to information from local, state and federal agencies. The loaded content is available even without mobile connectivity and the app features an “I’m safe” feature that lets family and loved ones know you are OK. The app also has flashlight, strobe light and alarm, all of which can be lifesaving features during an emergency. Visit your app store for a free download or go to redcross.org/mobileapps.
Prepare an emergency kit. You should have emergency supplies ready to go in case you need to evacuate. At a minimum, your kit should include the following supplies:
▪ Water — one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
▪ Food — nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
▪ Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
▪ Extra batteries
▪ First aid kit
▪ Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
▪ Multipurpose tool
▪ Sanitation and personal hygiene items
▪ Copies of important documents (medication list, pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
▪ Cellphones, chargers
▪ Family and emergency contact information
▪ Extra cash
▪ Emergency blanket
▪ Map(s) of the area
For a complete list of items, go to http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready.
Post emergency phone numbers in your home. Post the numbers by every phone in your home and enter them on your cellphones
Protect your home. Keep your gutters clean, store firewood and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from your primary dwelling, use fire-resistant materials when building decks and porches, and make sure your street number is visible from the street.
Plant responsibly. If you live in an area prone to wildfire, consider planting fire-resistant trees and shrubs instead of conifers. Keep your lawn short and watered. Consider using rock, gardens and flowerbeds as alternative landscaping.
Know your route. Familiarize yourself with at least two different evacuation routes out of your neighborhood. Practice often, and include everyone in your household.
Select a rendezvous spot. Select a place outside your neighborhood for family members to meet in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
Be ready to evacuate. If wildfires are reported in your area, listen to your local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Back your vehicle into your driveway, put your emergency kit in your car, and gather your pets in a central location so you can evacuate quickly when the order is given.
Anna Fernández-Gevaert is the regional communications director for the American Red Cross of Idaho and Montana. She can be reached at email@example.com.