Get Your Community Ready and Resourced for Fire Season

A pedestrian walks around Lake Merritt on Sept. 9, 2020, in Oakland. Photo by Aric Crabb, Bay Area News Group
  • Check the California Public Utilities Commission’s fire threat map to see your community’s fire risk level. You can also get real time updates on where fires are happening on CalFire’s Twitter account.
  • If you’re preparing for wildfire smoke, keep in mind that wildfire smoke often contains chemicals from burning buildings, appliances, and cars. Elders, children, and people with heart or lung diseases (like asthma) are at higher risk from wildfire smoke. For real-time air quality monitoring, check PurpleAir or AirNow.gov.
Residents load up their truck as they evacuate on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 in Boyes Hot Springs, California. Photo by Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat
  • If you are planning for toxic wildfire smoke, get N95 or higher masks and air purifiers now, as supplies may be harder to come by when the air quality worsens. You can also make DIY air purifiers with a box fan and filters.
  • Know your rights: In California, if the air quality index for PM 2.5 particles at your worksite is higher than 151, employers must implement a system for communicating wildfire smoke hazards in languages readily understandable by all employees, implement engineering controls like air filters in enclosed structures if possible, and change work procedures or schedules where practicable to reduce exposure. Employers must provide proper respiratory protection equipment like masks.
  • If you’re planning for possible evacuation, make a plan. Put together an emergency supply kit. Consider what might be needed to help safely evacuate elders, young children, pets, and people who may require additional support. Set meetup points outside of the fire risk area and designate a family member or friend outside of the fire risk area to serve as the main point of contact in case phone and communication systems are overloaded.
APEN member Bouakhay Phongboupha dropping off supplies and food for Kam Setoue during the COVID-19 pandemic, August 2020. Photo by Bouakhay Phongboupha
  • As wildfire seasons heats up, consider setting up a neighborhood or community phone tree to share information, supplies, and resources. Find out what needs or concerns people want to share with others, and what people want to offer.
  • Check out this guide on door-knocking your neighbors. It was created for neighbors supporting each other during the coronavirus pandemic, but can easily be adapted to prepare for the risks that your community is facing.
A volunteer places an N95 mask on a woman. Courtesy Mask Oakland, SF Public Press
APEN youth members Ashley and Alida Phuthama promoting resilience hubs through interactive games.

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Asian Pacific Environmental Network is an environmental justice organization with deep roots in California’s Asian immigrant and refugee communities.