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5 steps to helping vulnerable populations prepare for wildfire

Blog Post created by faithberry Employee on Jan 16, 2019
The January 2019 edition of NFPA’s® Journal explores why older residents suffered so greatly during the recent Campfire in an article titled, “Old & In Harm’s Way”.

According to the article,” The demographics of Paradise skewed older, with a significant portion of the population 65 or above. The town also had a significantly higher proportion of disabled residents. When those vulnerable populations came face to face with the topography and fire history of Paradise—most of the town exists in the wildland/urban interface—it was a meeting primed to end in disaster.”

 

A separate article by the Los Angeles Timesbacked up this observation, sharing that the majority of deaths that occurred during the Camp Fire were seniors. According to the article, “The victims who have been identified range in age from 39 to 99; however, 60% were in their 70s, 80s or 90s.”

So, what can be done to help prepare vulnerable populations such as the elderly, those without vehicles, those with physical or mental limitations, latch key children home alone while parents are at work, the homeless, and those for whom English is a second language? 

 

A first step is to learn more from NFPA’s emergency evacuation planning guide for people with disabilities.

Some other steps that can be taken include:

 

1.  Community members can identify and connect with those needing assistance in their neighborhood and make a plan where neighbors act as a buddy to assist disabled residents during events. 

 

2. Have a neighborhood, youth, or church group connect with disabled residents and help them with wildfire safety-focused yard work. Apply for a $500 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day award to help.You are not only helping to make their home safer, but yours as well.

3. Make sure disabled residents have a go-bag with extra medications, prescriptions, and anything else they need to have with them to reduce the time it will take for them to leave their home. Check out NFPA’s “Go Bag” checklist to learn more. There is even one for pets.

4. Host a community practice evacuation day, make it fun!

 

5. If a community finds they have a large percentage of residents that will need assistance, host a meeting with local emergency responders to share this with them and develop plans to ensure everyone’s safety.

 

We all have a part to play to improve the safety of our homes, neighbors, and those closest to us.  Let’s make sure it includes everyone too!

 

Photo Credits: Top photo, Marie Brescht; Second photo, Fallbrook Fire Authority. 

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