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Staying Prepared During Wildfires

By California Chronic Care Coalition

September 11, 2020

Wildfires across the state have prompted evacuations, power outages, and concerns about the effects on health. In such circumstances, it is vital that Californians are adequately prepared. In order to be ready, there are many things you and your family can do, and resources to be aware of, below. 

Prioritizing Your Emergency Plan

Anticipate a possible evacuation by making a plan to outline your family’s strategy, priorities, and critical information. You can make a comprehensive plan by visiting Ready For Wildfire and getting a customized action plan after answering questions about your environment. Examples of what you should consider include: 

There are evacuation points and shelters in various counties, many of which have resource centers like charging stations, restrooms, water, and more. (Source: California State Council on Developmental Disabilities)

  • Butte County:
    • Butte County Fairgrounds — 199 E. Hazel Street, Gridley, CA 95948;
    • Church of the Nazarene Oroville — 2238 Monte Vista Ave, Oroville, CA 93930 
  • El Dorado County
    • Cool Community Church — 863 Cave Valley Rd, Cool, CA 95614
  • Fresno County
    • Clovis North High School — 2770 E International Ave, Fresno, CA 93730
    • Foothill Elementary School — 29147 Auberry Rd, Prather, CA 93651
  • Humboldt County
    • Morek Won Community Center — 390 McKinnon Hill Rd, Weitchpec, CA 95546
    • Humboldt County Fairgrounds — 1250 5th St, Ferndale, CA 95536
    • Mad River High School — 1300 Murray Rd, McKinleyville, CA 95519
  • Los Angeles County
    • Santa Anita Racetrack — 285 W Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91007
  • Madera County
    • Oakhurst Community Center — 39800 Road 425B, Oakhurst, CA 93644
  • Mariposa County
    • Mariposa County Fairgrounds — 5007 Fairgrounds Rd, Mariposa, CA 95338
  • Mendocino County
    • Willits High School — 299 N Main St, Willits, CA 95490
    • Round Valley High School — 76270 High School St, Covelo, CA 95428
    • Willits High School — 299 N Main St, Willits, CA 95490
    • Baechtel Grove Middle School — 1150 Magnolia Street, Willits, CA 95490
  • Monterey County
    • King City Library — 402 Broadway St. King City, CA 93930
  • San Bernardino County
    • Redlands East Valley High School — 31000 E Colton Ave, Redlands, CA 92374
  • San Diego County
    • El Capitan High School — 10410 Ashwood Street, Lakeside, CA 92040
    • Steele Canyon High School — 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley, CA 91978
    • Joan MacQueen Middle School — 2001 Tavern Road, Alpine, CA 91901
  • Santa Cruz County
    • Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds — 2601 E Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076
  • Siskiyou County
    • Karuk Tribal Wellness Center — 1403 Kahtishraam, Yreka, CA 96097
    • Klammath River Elementary School — 30438 Walker Road, Klammath River, 96050
  • Trinity County
    • Southern Trinity High School — 600 Van Duzen Rd, Mad River, CA 95527
    • Burnt Ranch Elementary School — 251 Burnt River Road, Burnt River, CA 95527
  • Yuba County
    • Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds — 442 Franklin Ave, Yuba City, CA 95991

Keeping Your Health at the Center

Further compounded by the recent wildfires, this year has Americans facing unique challenges, multifaceted obstacles, and growing uncertainty. This rings especially true for people balancing the management of a chronic condition while their immediate safety and health is threatened by the force of wildfires across the state.The smoke, ash, and residue, resulting from the millions of acres burned thus far can considerably impact health, especially for those with preexisting lung disease. The American Lung Association has recommendations to keep lung health in check, and advises the regular communication between patient and their physician.The best course of action for most people is to stay indoors as much as possible, keeping windows closed, and if possible use a HEPA air purifier. If it is unavoidable to be outside for more than several minutes during unhealthy air conditions, it may be necessary to wear a specially-fitted N95 or P100 mask. Most other masks do not work to protect against wildfire particulates, including those used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 like disposable surgical masks or cloth masks. N95 masks being used to protect against wildfire smoke must have two straps that wrap around the head, and fit snugly under the chin and over the nose. However, because these masks are in such short supply, being used mostly in healthcare settings fighting the coronavirus, it is most advisable to stay indoors until fires subside and air quality improves. If you are outdoors or in public for a short time, it is still critical to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
People with chronic conditions have special considerations when preparing for emergencies like wildfires or public safety power shutoffs. For more detailed information on keeping health at the center of emergency planning, please visit our blog.

Staying Informed

Having access to reliable, updated information is important while making decisions during an emergency. Luckily, there are many resources that keep you up-to-date. You can sign up for county-wide alerts or opt-in to receiving texts from CalFireHealthcare Ready can help you keep your illness well-managed by pointing you in the direction of pharmacies open in your area, and has other informational videos and articles that can help in an emergency.You can stay up-to-date on Public Safety Power Shutoffs by following your provider’s website:

The Office of Emergency Services shared an updated Current Wildfires Map with a look at major incidents in California. You can also visit the CalFire Incident Map for live updates on progress battling wildfires across the state. As of yesterday, all National Forests in California are temporarily closed to protect firefighters and the public.
You can also follow us on Twitter where we’ll share the latest on wildfires in the state and keeping you and your family safe.