Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FEMA news release - Wildfires

29 July 2009
Contact: Mike Howard (425) 487-4610
Press Release No.: 09-71News Release


SEATTLE –Sustained record-breaking temperatures have raised wildfire hazards throughout the Pacific Northwest. With wildfires burning in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger encourages at-risk residents to prepare for the worst, stay informed on local conditions and evacuate if instructed to by fire or emergency management officials.

“Fires can start and spread quickly, and it is essential that people living on wooded lots or wildland/urban interface areas take action now to protect their homes and properties,” said Hunsinger. “The time to discuss wildfire warnings and evacuation strategies with your local forestry and emergency management officials is before wildfires rage. Stay in the loop, follow developments, and evacuate if instructed to.”

FEMA recommends that residents take specific action before an evacuation is necessary, clearing flammable materials from around the home, keeping roofs and gutters clear of pine needles and debris and ensuring that house numbers are visible and driveways allow access to firefighting vehicles.

Another important step that FEMA recommends is preparing an evacuation kit. Items should be put in a container that can be easily loaded into a vehicle for a quick departure. Items to include:
Battery-powered radio with additional batteries
First aid kit
Medicines, prescriptions and eye glasses
Water (at least one gallon per person and enough for three days for each person in the household)
Change of clothing
Sleeping bags and pillows
Cash and credit cards

It is also smart to keep important personal documents quickly available should you need to evacuate. Consider collecting your driver’s license, passport and other identification, birth and marriage certificates, Social Security card, insurance policies, tax records, wills, deed or lease and stocks and bonds. Also, know where your main turn-off switches are for electricity, water and gas.

FEMA also recommends that family members discuss how to contact one another if the wildfire comes near when family members are separated. Discuss evacuation routes and identify relatives or friends outside the immediate area that can be contacted. Finally, make sure your pets have collars and identification tags and take your pets with you if you need to evacuate. While some shelters won’t accept pets, an increasing number of communities are organizing pet shelters when large evacuations are necessary. Check with your local Humane Society, animal shelter or veterinarian.

For more information on protecting your family and your home from wildfires, go to, or

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Know what these terms mean - from the Red Cross

Know What These Terms Mean
Heat wave:
Prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods of excessive heat and humidity.

Heat index:
A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.

Heat cramps:
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat exhaustion:
Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat stroke:
Heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Another term for heat stroke.

If a Heat Wave Is Predicted or Happening...
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy.

Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.

Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.

Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine
in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.

Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Signals of Heat Emergencies

Heat exhaustion:
Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

Heat stroke:
Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high-- as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.

Treatment of Heat Emergencies

Heat cramps:
Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse.

Heat exhaustion:
Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.

Heat stroke:
Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.-->