Prepare for Wildfires

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Prepare Your Family

How to Prepare to Evacuate from a Wildfire
  • Evacuation plans for families with young children should include helping toddlers understand how to quickly respond in case of fire, and how adults can escape with babies. Prepare ahead of time by practicing your family’s fire escape plan, and what to do to be safe when there is a wildfire nearby.

    It is important to talk to toddlers and small children at a level that they understand and that does not frighten. Here are a few resources that offer guides and tips for families with young children about fire safety and preparing for a disaster:

  • Seniors and people with disabilities also need special consideration when preparing for a disaster. Below are several resources that help individuals and families with special needs plan and prepare for an event such as a wildfire.

  • Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate. Plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Each person should have a readily accessible emergency supply kit. Backpacks work great for storing these items (except food and water) and are quick to grab. Storing food and water in a tub or chest on wheels will make it easier to transport. Keep it light enough to be able to lift it into your car. Ensure you plan with COVID-19 in mind.

    • Face masks or coverings
    • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
    • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
    • Prescriptions or special medications
    • Change of clothing
    • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
    • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
    • Sanitation supplies
    • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
    • Don’t forget pet food and water!

    Items to take if time allows:
    • Easily carried valuables
    • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
    • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
    • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

    Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.
    For more information on emergency supplies, visit www.ready.gov

Wildfire Smoke

Prepare now for poor air quality events due to wildfire smoke. The best time to prepare for poor air quality is while air quality is good, since these events can occur with little warning and smoke from wildfires can travel quickly, and cause air pollution throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Stay connected with those you care about and check in on elderly neighbors, people with chronic illnesses, babies, and toddlers.

Information on Wildfire Smoke
  • Wildfire smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. It can make you cough and wheeze, and can make it hard to breathe for some people. If you have asthma or another lung disease, or heart disease, inhaling wildfire smoke can be especially bad for you.

    Most healthy people will recover quickly from wildfire smoke exposure and will not suffer long-term health consequences. However, certain people may experience more severe acute and chronic symptoms. Fine particles from smoke and coarse particles from ash can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Wildfire smoke exposure can also trigger exacerbations of asthma, chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart conditions.

  • If you see or smell smoke, protect your health by avoiding exposure. The best way to protect yourself is to stay indoors in cleaner air and minimize the amount of time spent outdoors in smoky conditions, until smoke levels subside.
    There are many precautions you can take to limit your exposure to wildfire smoke:

    • Keep windows and doors closed to keep the smoke from coming indoors.
    • Turn off continuous ventilation systems that pull in outside air. Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.
    • Close fireplace dampers.
    • Make sure you don’t introduce other sources of indoor air pollution by avoiding smoking, frying food, burning candles, and running the vacuum.
    • Indoor air quality can be improved by using portable HEPA filters and frequently changing your home heating system’s integrated air filter with a properly rated particulate filter.
    • Check air quality readings before allowing children to practice outdoor sports while air quality is unhealthy.
    • If it is too warm to stay indoors with the windows closed, or if you are especially sensitive to smoke, consider temporary re-location.
    • Environmental Protection Agency has info about how wildfire smoke affects indoor air quality.

  • Children, older adults, individuals with lung or heart disease, pregnant individuals, and people with social vulnerabilities are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

    • Individuals with health conditions should talk to their physicians to develop a personal plan for dealing with smoke.
    • Those with heart or lung disease, older adults, pregnant individuals, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion, and should either reschedule outdoor activities or move them to another location.
    • Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from asthma, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or other respiratory conditions.
    • People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan.
    • Keep up to two weeks’ worth of extra medication on hand. Be ready with plans to treat asthma or diabetes when there is smoke.
    • Contact your physician if you have cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms believed to be caused by smoke. If you are concerned, consult with your physician for personalized recommendations.
    • Leave the affected area if possible, for the duration of the heavy smoke event.

  • Check the latest air quality data for your area by searching your location at http://www.ValleyAir.Org and https://www.airnow.gov/. What you should do depends on the air quality index. Due to the active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality can be variable and unpredictable. Air quality may improve at times or get worse, very quickly.

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