The temperatures are still high and dry this October, causing wildfires to continue to rage throughout the west coast. People and animals alike are losing their homes and their health is at risk due to the fire as well as the smoke that is spreading throughout their communities. In the case of a wildfire, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Red Cross have safety tips everyone can use for emergency preparedness.
Try to keep the smoke outside
It’s good to have a room that is completely closed off from any air coming from outside. The CDC recommends that that specific room also has an air cleaner or filter to keep the air clear of smoke. There are even tutorials on do-it-yourself box fan filters for in instances where someone does not have one!
Reduce the amount of smoke you are being exposed to
The CDC recommends wearing a respirator to filter out any smoke that is being breathed in. They also state to make sure that your air conditioning system has the right filters to catch any fine smoke particles; if you do not, make sure the air conditioning system is recirculating the air already inside, or close intake damper meant for outdoors.
Stay alert and keep track of the fires around your area
Keep track of the news and any update alerts pertaining to the wildfires like Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather radio. Any news can help you prepare better for emergencies.
Be attentive to any health symptoms
It’s important to keep yourself and anyone with you safe if they have asthma, pregnancy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. The smoke can make their conditions worse and put them more at risk.
Be prepared for power outages
Power outages can occur long-term, especially if the fires are large. In this case, try to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, always have emergency food around, safe drinking water, and make sure everyone is away from any power line hazards.
Have an evacuation plan
If your area is prone to have any type of wildfires or natural disasters, always have a disaster plan and practice it. This preparation method can help everyone around you know what to do in the occurrence of a disaster and help them move quickly. Not only that, but the more prepared everyone is, the fewer risks everyone has to take.
Do not add-on to indoor pollution
Indoor pollution counts as candles, fireplaces, and gas stoves. You wanna make sure the air your breathing is as filtered as possible to decrease your health and safety risks, since outdoors already has smoke.
Know your pets and animals can get affected as well
Pets can suffer from health problems from the smoke just as people can. It is also best to keep them in one room, so if there is a need to evacuate, it will be easier to take them and quickly evacuate.
What to do if you are trapped outdoors
If you are trapped outdoors, look for shelter in an area that is cleared or around a bed of rocks. Cover your body with soil, lying flat and facing down. To avoid damaging your lungs and inhaling smoke, breathe the air that is closest to the ground.
Do not return home until it is safe
It is important to get the “okay” from officials before returning home. When it is safe to do so, inspect the roof of your home and extinguish any sparks and embers that were left from the wildfires. Even after time has passed, it is recommended to recheck for smoke and sparks around the home and anything that can cause fires. Remember to check the attics.