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Red Cross Lending a Hand as Wildfires Force Californians to Leave Home
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August 14, 2009

The American Red Cross is on the scene where two wildfires are burning in California, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

Red Cross chapters in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties have opened shelters to offer a safe haven for those who have been ordered to evacuate.  The Santa Cruz County Chapter has deployed an Emergency Response Vehicle to provide snacks and beverages to fire fighters and evacuees.  Partner shelters have also been set up for pets which left the fire areas with their owners.

Preparedness kit
Shop the Red Cross Store for all your preparedness needs.

If you have been affected by the fires, you can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, an easy way to notify loved ones of your well-being.  You can sign up on the web site or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  Friends and family can then search for your message by using your phone number or complete address.

We have more information available on how to be prepared for wildfires in our Preparedness section.  You can help by making a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund or by calling your local Red Cross chapter to find out how you can volunteer your time.

According to news reports, more than 2,400 people have been ordered to leave their homes in Santa Cruz County where fires have scorched about 4,100 acres near the coastal town of Santa Cruz.  More than a thousands structures are threatened by this fire.  A second fire in Santa Barbara County has affected a 75-square-mile area, forcing the evacuation of ranches and homes in the area.

In a wildfire, every second counts.  They spread quickly.  This Red Cross wildfire safety checklist can help you be prepared to evacuate if fires threaten your home:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply)
  • Food—non­perishable, easy ­to ­prepare items (3­day supply)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery ­powered or hand ­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Other essential items that could not be replaced if they were destroyed

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; 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 mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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