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Red Cross Lending a Hand as Santa Barbara Wildfires Rage
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Red Cross
May 8, 2009

The American Red Cross is on the scene in Santa Barbara, CA, offering shelter, food, and a helping hand to those residents affected by the massive wildfires in the area.

According to news reports, the fire has led to the evacuation of an estimated 30,000 people.  About 2,300 firefighters are fighting the inferno which worsened overnight and is only about ten percent contained.  The blaze is approaching one of the city’s more populated areas and flames have jumped several roads, igniting brush surrounding houses.  The area is no stranger to wildfires.  In November of 2008, a fire burned 200 houses in Santa Barbara and Montecito.

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Red Cross is operating several shelters, and is working with the Humane Society to shelter animals whose owners have been evacuated from their homes.  The Santa Barbara County Chapter is urging residents to be prepared to “Grab and Go,” putting important papers, extra medications, pet supplies and irreplaceables in the car to be ready to flee the area quickly if necessary.  You can follow the chapter’s response on its web site or on Twitter.

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen for news reports and evacuation information, and follow the instructions of local officials. Here is a set of Red Cross tips on what to do when a wildfire threatens:

  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need, such as:
    • water and food that won’t spoil
    • a change of clothing and footwear per person and a blanket or sleeping bag
    • A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications
    • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash, or traveler’s checks, and an extra pair of eyeglasses
    • Sanitation supplies
    • Special items for infants, the elderly, or disabled family members
  • Important family documents in a waterproof container
  • 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. Keep your Disaster Supplies Kit in the car, ready to go.
  • Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.

For more details on what to do to prepare both your family and your home for a wildfire, visit our web site.

Help people affected by disasters like the wildfires by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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, D.C., 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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