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Wildfires Have Abundant Fuel to Burn after Above Average Rainfall

Local Red Cross Offers Lifesaving Tips to the Community


With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s over the next few days, the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter wants everyone to be prepared for wildfires. After a season of above average rainfall, the Central Coast has seen the growth of a lot of brush and grasses which provide the potential for fires to move much more rapidly and carry a lot more heat into heavier fuels, particularly with the weather getting warmer and dryer during the coming week.

For California, the typical “fire season” is a thing of the past; wildfires now happen year-round. 2010 presents some additional concerns after a winter of above normal rainfall. The Central Coast can expect the growth of a lot of brush and grasses, which, when the weather becomes dryer, provides the potential for fires to move much more rapidly, and carry a lot more heat into heavier fuels. The American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter wants you to prepare for the possibility of fires happening anytime and anywhere.

The American Red Cross encourages families to prepare at home, at school and at the workplace. Wild fires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. In a wild fire, every second counts! To prepare yourself and your family for wildfires, follow these tips from the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter:

* Contact your local fire department, health department or forestry office for information on fire laws.

* Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.

* Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.

* Post fire emergency telephone numbers.

* Ask to see a copy of your child’s school emergency plan.

* Plan several escape routes away from your home, office, and school – by car and by foot

* Speak with your company HR director about fire safety plans in the workplace.

* Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire.

* Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can’t get home

For Your Home

* Landscape your house with fire resistant plants such as hardwood trees.

* Create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your property.

Keep items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, ax handsaw, bucket, shovel and a ladder that will reach the roof.

* Have a garden hose that reaches any area of the house.

* Mow grass regularly.

Family Preparedness

* Prearrange several meeting places in case of separation during commotion.

* Teach children fire safety and keep matches out of their reach.

* Network with neighbors and find out who has special needs or skills.

* Plan for pet survival needs.

* Take First Aid and CPR courses from your American Red Cross.

- - -

When Wildfire Threatens

* Listen on a battery-powered radio for evacuation information.

* If authorities advise you to evacuate, do so immediately.

* Prepare pets for evacuation.

* Park car pointed in direction of escape and leave keys in ignition.

* When evacuating, take disaster kit.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation’s blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; 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 humanitarian mission. Locally, the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter provided services to more than 30,000 people in Santa Barbara County and distributed disaster preparedness and health and safety materials to over 13,900 school children, seniors and community members. For more information, please contact the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter at 687-1331 in Santa Barbara or 928-0778 in Santa Maria.

Now, find the Red Cross on Twitter @SBRedCross!

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