Red Cross Urges Montanans to Take Steps Now to Stay Safe This Wildfire Season


With the National Interagency Fire Center forecasting an above-average wildfire season across Montana this summer, the American Red Cross is urging families to take simple steps now that will help keep them safe later.

"It's more critical than ever to get ready for wildfire season," said Diane Wright, Montana Red Cross executive director. "Wildfires are dangerous and can spread quickly, giving you only minutes to evacuate. Protect your loved ones and get ready now."


Here are four simple steps you can take to be prepared:

1. Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child's school, your work and your community's emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.

2. Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant or pets if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household. If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still OK to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.

3. Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a wildfire emergency and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

4. Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, information about Red Cross shelter locations and safety advice on wildfires and other emergencies. To download the app, search for American Red Cross in your app store or go to


*Be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.

*Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your house and make sure everyone has those numbers in their cell phones.

*Don't drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. Hot components under your vehicle can spark fires.

*Use equipment responsibly. Lawn mowers, chain saws, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildfire.

*Use caution any time you use fire. Dispose of charcoal briquettes and fireplace ash properly, never leave any outdoor fire unattended and make sure that outdoor fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.

*If residential debris burning is allowed — use caution. After obtaining any necessary permits, ensure that burning is not currently restricted in your area.

*Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from the house.

*Find an outdoor water source such as a pond, well, even a swimming pool, and have a hose that can reach any area of your property.

*Create a fire-resistant zone free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet out from your home.

*Regularly clean roofs and gutters.

*Make sure driveway entrances and your house number are clearly marked so fire vehicles can get to your home.

Each year, Montana Red Cross responds to hundreds of disasters including wildfires, home fires and flooding and helps people meet their most immediate needs. Last summer, Red Cross responders provided more than 220 overnight shelter stays to Montana families displaced by wildfires and served more than 600 meals and snacks. To request Red Cross assistance during a disaster, call 800-272-6668. Red Cross services are free and available to all.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or


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