Great Falls, MT, August 17, 2015The American Red Cross Montana continues to monitor the wildfires across our state. The organization is asking people to get ready well before an evacuation is expected.

The key to preparing for an evacuation is to have a plan in place well before officials order an evacuation.

“One lightning strike can lead to a wildfire and spread quickly.  When this happens, every second counts.” says Diane Wright, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Montana. “It’s important to prepare for wildfires and have a plan in place should one occur.”

The Red Cross has a few tips about what to do first:

Gather your family or household members and delegate responsibilities:

  • Put together an emergency kit to take with you when you evacuate. For a detailed list of items to include, go to
  • Prepare a vital information kit with important documents like medical, banking, insurance and credit card records, utility service providers, passwords, etc.
  • Save a list of emergency numbers on every cell phone. Register with your county’s emergency services Reverse 911 system.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Plan ahead for your pets and livestock. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along your evacuation route.
  • You may not be together when evacuation notices are given. Identify a place to meet in case you are separated.
  • Plan and practice several evacuation routes from your home.

When a wildfire threatens your immediate area, here is how to prepare for an imminent evacuation:

  • Tune in to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information and air quality reports.
  • Limit exposure to smoke and dust, especially for children, elderly and asthmatics. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in. Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on your air conditioner.
  • Close windows and doors, but do not lock. Close curtains, shutters, and blinds. Turn on exterior lights.
  • Remove flammable items, like cushions on lawn furniture, from decks and porches.
  • Open gates for animals that cannot be evacuated.
  • Connect a hose to an outside spigot, mark any water sources on your property, and leave a ladder for firefighters.
  • Put your emergency kit in your car.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape, with windows closed and keys in the ignition. Make sure to keep your gas tank full during fire season.
  • Put your best driver at the wheel. Turn on lights, drive slowly and watch out for emergency vehicles.

To have important wildfire safety information at your fingertips, download the free Red Cross Emergency App at To learn more about wildfire evacuations, go to

How to Donate

 You can help people affected by disasters like Montana wildfires, as well as countless other crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, and other emergency assistance in response to disasters. To donate, please visit, call 1-800-ARC-MONT (1-800-272-6668) or send a check to the American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.