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Amidst Wildfire Awareness Week the Red Cross says to get ready now and also volunteer.

Busy Wildfire Season on the Horizon

FRESNO— Residents of the Central Valley are facing an above-normal wildfire season as the climate crisis threatens to upend more communities. The best defense during an emergency is to be prepared. The American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter advises everyone to get ready now.

The number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. has increased by 85% in just the last decades. Disasters are growing in frequency and intensity. People across the country are feeling the impact. An estimated 2.5 million were forced from their homes by weather-related disasters in 2023. More than a third were displaced for longer than a month.

Image of Lori Wilson Red Cross Central Cal Executive

“Today, the Red Cross is responding

to more large disasters — almost twice

as many — than we did a decade ago,”

said Lori Wilson, Executive Director -Central Valley Chapter.

 

She continues, “This growing need for help means we need more volunteers trained and ready to support families facing their darkest moments. Plus, it’s critical for Central Valley residents to make an emergency plan now.”

WILDFIRE SAFETY VISITS

Ahead of the Central Valley’s wildfire season, the Red Cross is offering free Wildfire Safety Visits in high-risk, wildfire-prone areas, including Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, and Tulare Counties.

Person's hand writing in notebook with pen. Wildfire defense awareness education and services are FREE and include a checklist of important actions to prepare for the next wildfire. Volunteers will discuss wildfire safety information during a wildfire preparedness education visit at homes and provide free preparedness resources. Topics covered during the visit will include wildfire safety information, defensible space education, developing your family’s wildfire emergency plan, knowing what to do during an evacuation and conducting a home walkaround. The visit will take approximately 30 minutes. To sign up for a free wildfire safety visit, residents can visit redcross.org/CCRwildfire.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Comprising 90% of the Red Cross workforce, volunteers are continuously providing shelter, comfort, hot meals, health services and recovery support to families in need across the country. Additionally, with a predicted above-average hurricane season, early forecasts indicate there could be a near-record number of storms this year. People across the U.S. are counting on Red Cross volunteers to help provide disaster relief when disasters strike.

Several hands reaching up in the air, symbolizing unity and teamwork.

VOLUNTEER TODAY

The Red Cross is looking for new volunteers who are team players and want to make an immediate difference. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to sign up. Free online training will be provided, and there is a critical need for these positions:

  1. Local Disaster Action Team volunteers help families in need by providing food, lodging, comfort, recovery assistance and other support.
  2. Shelter Services volunteers support the day-to-day activities in an emergency shelter for those forced from their homes by disasters.
  3. As a Disaster Health or Mental Health Services volunteer, you can use your professional skills as a licensed healthcare provider to deliver hands-on care to people in shelters.

WILDFIRE PREVENTION

Sadly, people cause 85% of wildfires by burning debris, using equipment improperly, discarding cigarettes carelessly, leaving campfires unattended or intentionally setting a fire. To help prevent wildfires, follow these critical tips:

  • Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot components under your vehicle can spark fires.
  • Use equipment responsibly. Lawn mowers, chain saws, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildfire.
  • Use caution any time you use fire. Dispose of charcoal briquettes and fireplace ashes properly, never leave any outdoor fire unattended, and make sure that outdoor fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
  • If residential debris burning is allowed — use caution. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that burning is not currently restricted in your area.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from the house.

You can find more wildfire safety information here.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOUSEHOLD

With the increasing risk of climate-driven disasters, help keep your family safe by making preparations today.

  • Build an emergency kit with bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and battery-powered radio. Also include medications, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers and emergency contact information.
  • Make an evacuation plan with what to do in case you find yourself separated from your family during an emergency and if you must evacuate. Make sure to coordinate with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans — and don’t forget your pets.
  • Know how to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

Plus, download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and more safety tips. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on social media.

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