As of Thursday, a Red Flag Warning expired in Northern California but went into effect for Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties through Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service. In addition, more than 170,000 Southern California utility customers are under a power shutoff watch throughout the region. Twenty-two counties in Northern California in recent days have also sustained power shutoffs in preventative wildfire efforts. PG&E has begun restoring power in those Northern California counties. The Red Cross has had logistics teams in place monitoring events across the state. Read more
Two years ago today, our counties were struck by one of the most devastating disasters in recent memory. It has been extraordinary, and humbling, to see our communities come together and build back stronger from that terrible event.
Exactly two years to the day after the North Bay Fires, we are facing the nearly identical wind and fuel conditions lasting through the middle of this week. Fortunately, our community has learned important lessons and taken strong early action.
In response to the Fire Weather Watch warnings, Red Cross volunteers are mobilizing to ensure equipment, supplies, and teams are ready to go at a moment’s notice if needed. The Red Cross is in regular communication with government partners to determine potential needs in case a wildfire breaks out. As Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) open or are put on standby, Red Cross Government Liaisons are staffing them and ensuring availability of Red Cross services are known and requested as appropriate.
PG&E’s largest planned power outage yet could coincide with the two-year anniversary of the North Bay fires, a fall forecast combining at least three factors — hot weather, low humidity and strong winds — not seen since the October 2017 firestorm prompting the utility to consider shutting off electricity Wednesday and Thursday in up to 30 Northern and Central California counties. The advisory, affecting millions of residents and appears to exempt only two counties in PG&E’s service territory, Marin and San Francisco. No times or specific areas of the counties were mentioned. Updates will be posted on PG&E’s website, and the utility will also try to contact customers ahead of a shutoff.
Power Outage Preparedness
Visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare for detailed preparedness information.
Below are three simple steps you and your family can take to be ready, should there be an extended power outage that lasts multiple days:
1) Get a kit.
- Your emergency kit should contain food, water, and other basic supplies to last at least SEVEN days, for each family member.
- Water – 3 gallons per person per day, a gallon per mid-size pet for every three days
- Food – non-perishable, nutritious food that requires little or no water or cooking to prepare that will meet the needs of your household
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Phone Chargers – A battery-operated or solar-powered phone charger that is big enough to provide several full charges, or one that plugs into your car, plus cords in each of your kits will help you stay informed, take photos, and communicate in an emergency
- Cash – Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies like water.
- Also, don’t forget to include essential medications, first aid kit, copies of important documents, and special items for children and pets.
2) Make a plan.
- If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical technologies such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair or scooter, home oxygen or dialysis or take medications that need refrigeration, it is critical that you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
- Know how to manually open your garage door.
- Fill your gas tank
- Charge all your devices; Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers
- Include your pets in your emergency plans. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate, so does your pet. It’s important to know in advance to know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area, and where your pets can stay in an emergency
- Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate.
- Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work, and your community’s emergency plans.
3) Be informed.
- Be informed about which emergencies may occur where you live, work and play, and how to respond as safely as possible.
- Find out how your local officials will send out emergency alerts during a local disaster (Nixle or other alert notifications system) and sign up to receive their notifications.
Safety during a Power Outage
Visit www.redcross.org/poweroutage for full power outage safety information.
Regardless of the reason for their occurrence, power outages can be frustrating and troublesome. For prolonged power outages, there are ways that you can minimize loss and keep everyone as comfortable as possible.
- Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
- Turn off or disconnect any appliances — such as stoves — equipment and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
- Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.
- First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables are safe to eat when they have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Then, use food from the freezer.
- If the power outage continues beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot, and cover it at all times.
If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows, and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles.
- Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
- Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for additional power outage safety information right at your fingertips.
- The Emergency App provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during power outages and countless other emergencies.
- Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning, which is in effect from 1 PM Monday to 11 AM Wednesday. A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. The type of weather patterns that can cause a warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. Multiple counties in American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region are under Red Flag Warnings, including parts of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and East Bay Hills. Read more
The school bells are calling students back to the classroom and the American Red Cross wants to make sure your student is safe as they head back to school. Read more
After events like the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, people may have feelings of fear, anxiety, grief, and helplessness. These are all normal feelings after this type of event. Something like this is upsetting for everyone. People near the emergency are affected, as well as people all over the country who may have family in the areas; who may know someone who was affected; or people who are watching the media coverage of this tragic situation.
Children are especially at risk as they may become afraid that the event will happen again, or that they or someone in their family may be injured or killed. The injuries and fatalities are difficult for them to understand. How a parent or other adult reacts around the child following a traumatic event can determine how quickly and completely the child recovers.
This is difficult to understand why something like this happens and it’s important for people to connect with and support each other. The Red Cross offers the following tips to help people stay strong:
- Events like this can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety since no one knows what could potentially happen next. Remember that it’s okay to feel nervous.
- Stay informed but limit media exposure of the events, especially for children. Children are especially vulnerable to stress reactions related to media.
- Parents should let children talk about their fears and then reassure them about their safety. Talk with them in ways that they can easily understand. Let them guide the conversation; share details only when they ask about them.
- Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety.
- Spend more time with family and friends and offer your support. Hug one another and listen.
- Watch for signs of stress in your family, friends, and children. Get help from others if needed.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and get enough rest.
- To reach out for free 24/7 crisis counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish) or (800) 846-6815 (TTY) or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at text ‘TalkWithUs’ or ‘Hablanos’ (for Spanish) to 66746.
- Be Red Cross Ready: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health after a Disaster (PDF | 307 KB)—This fact sheet from the American Red Cross explains normal reactions to a disaster, what a survivor can do to cope with these emotions, and where to seek additional help if needed.
- Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress (PDF | 1.8 MB)—This SAMHSA tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. It lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish (PDF | 314 KB).
- Coping With Grief After Community Violence (PDF | 1 MB)—This SAMHSA tip sheet introduces some of the signs of grief and anger after an incident of community violence, provides useful information about to how to cope with grief, and offers tips for helping children deal with grief.
The 4th of July holiday is just around the corner and many of us will take time off to enjoy a long weekend of summer fun. The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a great holiday and offers safety steps people can follow.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:
- Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. Wash your hands before preparing the food. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. If you are going to cook on a grill, follow these steps:
- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
- Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open and away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
Be “Water smart.” Children and adults should learn to swim so, at a minimum, they achieve the skills of water competency: be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, find an exit, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely.
Prevent unsupervised access to water. A person who is drowning has a better chance of survival if these steps are followed:
- Recognize the signs of someone trouble and shout for help;
- Rescue and remove the person from water without putting yourself in danger;
- Call 9-1-1;
- Begin rescue breathing and CPR; and
- Use an AED, if available, and transfer care to advanced life support.
Here are a few more steps people can take as we approach the holiday:
- Go to www.redcross.org/watersafety for water safety courses, tips, and resources.
- Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to information on how to treat bleeding, burns, insect bites, and stings, and more.
- Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit www.redcrossblood.org or download the Red Cross Blood App for more information or to schedule your donation.
At last week’s American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter Board of Directors Meeting, Brenda Isaula-Cordon was honored for her 25th anniversary.
Brenda began her career with the American Red Cross in May 1994 as an assistant in the Human Resources Department. She has also worked as an Accounts Receivable Specialist in the Finance Department and as a Chapter Management Assistant, working for Harold Brooks.
She took training in disaster casework where her Spanish language skills have been invaluable with local fire responses. Also, she deployed on several two-week Disaster assignments, including:
- October 1991 – Caseworker for wildfires in Redding, CA
- September 2001 – Spanish interpreter in New York for the 9/11 hotline after the World Trade Center attacks
- October 2004 – Caseworker for Hurricane Ivan in Florida
Nowadays, Brenda supports the San Francisco office, ensuring the office runs smoothly and that both external and internal customers are received with a warm welcome.
Congratulations, Brenda, on achieving this anniversary with us! We know you have worked hard for this accomplishment and you have been such a significant part of our team. We truly appreciate your dedication. We couldn’t imagine our workplace without you!