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Red Cross on the Ground as Wildfires Take a Toll on California
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Red Cross
November 17, 2008

As wildfires continue to devastate many parts of Southern California, burning hundreds of homes, the Red Cross is on the ground to ensure evacuees have a safe place to go.

Firefighter - Southern California Wildfires
Firefighter - Southern California Wildfires

Hundreds of evacuees have stopped by Red Cross shelters in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties during the day for a meal or to get information about their neighborhoods. Others have stayed to get a good night’s rest. Perhaps most importantly, shelters serve as a place where evacuees can get emotional support. That support is a welcome relief for people who fled their homes and face an uncertain future.

The Red Cross Safe and Well website also offers a way for evacuees to keep in touch with loved ones who live outside the fire-affected areas. Evacuees can register on the site and choose from a menu of pre-scripted messages that their loved ones can access. For people who don’t have internet access, operators at 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) can register evacuees. Relatives can also use the site to list evacuees so friends and extended family can have the peace of mind of knowing everyone is safe. To access Safe and Well, go to www.redcross.org and use the Safe and Well link on the front page.

For people who live in areas where wildfires are reported, the Red Cross recommends the following:

  • Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Have a disaster supplies kit ready, which includes a 3-day supply of food and water (1 gallon per person, per day); first aid kit and medications; and important documents. Go to redcross.org for a complete list of disaster supplies.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside your home.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too hot to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles already inside your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.

For more wildfire information and safety tips, visit redcross.org.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Wildfires, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.


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