Sara Neumann 203.209.6545 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 16, 2017)— Since October 8, more than 217,000 acres of land have burned in California as a result of more than two dozen wildfires across the state. Save the Children has been monitoring the California wildfires since they started last week.
Here are ten tips Save the Children recommends for parents, teachers, grandparents and caregivers to help children cope with the news of the California wildfires:
1. Listen to and answer your children’s questions about the wildfires. Spend time with your family discussing why wildfires occur. Explain how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs. Explain that a wildfire can be a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Use simple words that even young children can understand.
2. Know your risk. Learn about your area's risk of wildfires, particularly if you live near forests, in rural areas, or in a dry climate. Contact your local fire department, state forestry office, or other emergency response agencies for information on fire laws and wildfire risk.
3. Learn caregivers’ disaster plans. If your child’s school or childcare center is in an area at risk from wildfires, find out what its plans are for in case of a wildfire. Ask about its evacuation plans are and if you would be required to pick up your child from the site or from another location.
4. Practice evacuation drills. Practice your family evacuation plan so that, if told to do so, you can evacuate quickly and safely. Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood as one route may be blocked.
DURING A WILDFIRE
5. Stay informed. If a wildfire is approaching, listen regularly to local radio or television stations for updated emergency information. Follow the instructions of local officials as they will know safest evacuation route.
6. Have supplies ready. If you must evacuate, wear protective clothing such as sturdy shoes, cotton or wool long pants and long-sleeved shirts and gloves. Lock your home and take your disaster supplies kit with you.
7. Avoid smoke and fumes. Keep children, babies and infants away from areas where there is smoke or fumes, and stay indoors if possible. Smoke produced by the wildfire may cause breathing problems or contain poisonous toxins.
AFTER A WILDFIRE
8. Use caution when returning to a burned area. Get permission from fire officials before returning to a burned wildfire area. Look out for hazards such as fallen wires and ash pits and be alert as fire re-ignition may be possible.
9. Clean up safely. Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks. Keep children away from burned sites until cleanup is complete.
10. Limit media exposure. Protect children from seeing too many images of the wildfire, including those on the internet, television or newspapers.
For the latest on California wildfires, visit Cal Fire (www.calfire.ca.gov), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. To learn more about how to keep kids safe during natural disaster, please visit www.SavetheChildren.org/GetReady.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.