Against the backdrop of the deadly wildfires that have taken place in California this month, and the fact that many in Northern California are still missing, the American Red Cross is teaming up with others to produce an information service that they say could have saved lives.
A big part of this is a Wildfire App and on KVNU’s For the People program on Monday, communications director for the Red Cross in Utah and Nevada, Rich Woodruff, said education is the key element with this service.
“It’s both education before an event (and) during an event, and then even after in terms of the recovery. It’s basically designed to have that emergency information at your fingertips,” Woodruff explained. “First of all, you want to be prepared in the event that you have to face this kind of a situation and then during the event, real time information, traffic reports, maybe shelter locations…just live information that can be very helpful during the event.”
It is hoped that many of those missing are okay, but with the communication infrastructure affected by the fires, they cannot communicate that to family and friends. Woodruff said the app can help in these situations.
“That’s a great feature. In fact, all the apps that we develop have the ‘safe and well’ feature because a lot of times…look at the situation we’re in now, a lot of people missing and it’s very confusing, very chaotic. In disasters that’s kind of the nature of what happens so that is a feature that is part of this and the other apps that we have that are surrounding disasters.”
In the press release announcing the app, the Red Cross reminds residents of some familiar precautions that can be taken, including planting fire-resistant trees and shrubs, keeping your lawn short and well-watered, storing firewood and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from your primary dwelling and becoming familiar with at least two different evacuation routes out of your neighborhood.
And seeing that some in California did not have time to search for their pets, make sure that when the evacuation notice comes, you have them sequestered in a room ready to go.