Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 6:39 am | Fair 40º


Red Cross Urges Residents to Prepare for Wildfires

Meteorologists are predicting a 40 percent chance of above-normal temperatures to scorch Santa Barbara County from now through the summer months. The American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter, concerned that the hot temperatures will create an abundance of fire fuel by drying out the vegetation which sprung up after the heavy winter rains, is preparing for a busy fire season. 

“The most important thing you and your family can do right now is to: 1) create an emergency plan for your family, 2), get an emergency preparedness kit for your house and your car, 3) follow county fire instructions to clear brush around your home if you are in a high fire danger area,” said Janet Stanley, CEO of the Santa Barbara County Chapter. “The American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter can also give groups and neighborhoods a fire safety presentation upon request.”

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly and ignite brush, trees and homes. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home and property.

Practice wildfire safety

» People start most wildfires. Find out how you can promote and practice wildfire safety.

» Contact the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter, fire department, health department or forestry office for information on fire laws.

» Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.

» Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.

» Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.

» Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.

» Post fire emergency telephone numbers.

» Plan more than one escape route away from your home by car and by foot.

» Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood can work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as the elderly or disabled.

» Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can’t get home.

When wildfire threatens

» If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials.

» Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.

» Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.

» Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters, and taught lifesaving skills to millions. The Santa Barbara County Chapter has provided services to more than 30,000 people in Santa Barbara County during the past year and has distributed disaster preparedness and health and safety materials to more than 13,900 schoolchildren, seniors and community members.

The Red Cross is not a government agency. It relies on donations of time and money to do its work. For more information,call the Santa Barbara County Chapter at 805.687.1331 in Santa Barbara, at 805.928.0778 in Santa Maria or at 805.736.5110 in Lompoc.

Marjorie Wass of SurfMedia Communications represents the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter.

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