Wildfires: Be prepared
With high winds and dry conditions continuing across much of Central Texas, the American Red Cross is urging residents to take steps now to stay safer when wildfires threaten.
“By preparing together for wildfires, we can make our families safer and our communities more resilient to disaster,” Marty McKellips, American Red Cross Central Texas Region CEO, said. “We can help you and your family create a wildfire preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened.”
In September 2011, local Red Cross workers managed shelters, served meals and distributed clean up and recovery supplies to residents affected by wildfires in Bastrop County and Steiner Ranch.
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for wildfires by:
• Create and Practice a Home Wildfire Plan – Learn about wildfire risks in your area. Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a wildfire occurs. Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate. Identify two routes out of your neighborhood in case the primary route is blocked.
• Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit - Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled water, maps of the area, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries. Include essential legal and identifying documents in your kit in the event that you must quickly evacuate. Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools (e.g. a rake, ax, shovel, bucket, chain or hand saw).
• Heed News Reports - Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated information. If threatened, be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice as wildfires can be unpredictable. Contain pets to one room so you can find them quickly.
• Prepare Your Home – Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home to saturate your home’s perimeter if needed.
For more information on wildfire preparedness, contact the American Red Cross Central Texas Region at (512) 928-4271, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS.