With Idaho predicted to have an above-average wildfire season, the Red Cross of Greater Idaho encourages families to take steps now to prepare.
“A wildfire can spread very quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety,” said Ted Koenig, regional disaster program officer for the Red Cross of Idaho and Montana. “If a wildfire starts near your home, be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.”
Basic wildfire safety includes keeping the areas around your home clear of brush and materials that may catch fire, parking your car with it facing the direction of your evacuation route, confining pets to one room, limiting exposure to smoke and dust and not using anything that burns, like candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. It is also recommended to have an emergency kit to take with you if you need to evacuate. The kit should have a first aid kit, flashlight, cellphone with charger, medications, family contact information and nonperishable food and water.
If you are trapped outside, the American Red Cross says to crouch in a pond, river or pool. Do not put wet clothing or bandanas over your mouth or nose, as the moist air can cause damage to your airway. If there is not a body of water, look for shelter in a clear area or on a bed of rocks. Lie face down and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.
Do not return home until officials say it is safe to do so. When you do return, look at the roof and extinguish any sparks or embers as they could reignite. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Keep your animals under control. Soak debris in water to minimize breathing in dust particles and throw away any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
The American Red Cross has an app with an "I'm Safe" feature that helps people check on loved ones. You can find it in app stores by search "American Red Cross" or by clicking here. The American Red Cross encourages everyone to follow all local guidance from emergency officials.