Staying Prepared During Wildfires
September 11, 2020
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.
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)
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.
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 CalFire. Healthcare 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.