Dear Skamania Families,
We are thinking of you and your safety during the regional wildfire crisis we are experiencing. The intent of this message from the school counselor and me is to provide health tips and emergency preparation materials. It was not that long ago that many of you experienced the fires in the Gorge, and you are well aware of the dangers and necessary safety precautions. Here are some additional resources, if needed.
Wildfire Resource Links:
- Natural Disasters: Helping Kids During Crisis
- U.S. Dept of Education Crisis Planning Guide
- FEMA Ready Kids: Wildfires
- NCTM: Wildfire Resources
- SAMHSA: Wildfire Resources
- CDC: Stay Safe During a Wildfire
Local Resource Links:
- Washington State Wildfire Information
- Skamania County Fire Marshal
- Skamania County Resources
- City of Stevenson Fire Services
- Skamania County Sheriff
Poor air quality tips:
When air is smoky, even healthy people can have symptoms from wildfire smoke. They can range from minor irritation to life threatening complications.
- Limit time outdoors
- Avoid strenuous activities and choose light indoor activities
- Fill up your gas tank and make sure it’s at least at 3/4 until all fires are extinguished.
- Pack a “Go Bag” for each family member. Pack more than you think you will need.
- Make a list of things you do not want to leave without and keep it by the door. It is easy to forget things in a frenzy (wedding rings, photos, etc.)
- Keep a go bag of distance learning materials for your kiddos. The sooner children have structure, the safer they feel.
- Take a video of everything in your home (for insurance claim reasons). Open up and show and talk through the contents of all the closets, drawers, fridge, freezer. Walk around your property and verbally talk about different plants, landscape etc.
- Turn off your propane tanks, if you have them, before you go. Turn off your gas as well.
- Throw everything away in your fridge and freezer before you go, and remember to take out the trash. If you’re evacuated, it is likely your power will be shut off and you will return to a smelly mess.
- If your address is not current on your ID make sure to keep a copy of your utility bill with your important documents to show residency for FEMA/AirB&B applications etc.
You may also need your current home address to return to your home, if there are neighborhood blockades.
- If evacuated, contact your insurance agent ASAP and start your claim. Most home and renters insurance will cover 2 weeks of food, lodging, and supplies while under mandatory evacuation.
- Monitor AirB&B – once evacuated they may open up emergency housing for free. Do not get discouraged if they say no pets- email the owner directly because all rules are usually thrown out of the window during emergency situations.
- Before you go, seal and shut all windows and doors. Make sure to close or wrap any ac units. This will greatly reduce smoke damage.
- If you can, self-evacuate early. Follow your gut and go when you say you feel unsafe.
- Keep a cooler of non-perishable drinks and snacks in your car.
- Withdraw a bit of cash to have with you.
- When you get back home, do not sweep or blow the ash. This can create a toxic air quality and can blow hot embers. Instead use a hose to wet down the ash and wipe up the ash with wet paper towels.
- When you get back home, replace all filters in your home and car.
- An easy way to rid your home of the smoke smell is to attach large filters to box fans, cover with a wet towel doused in fabric softener and let them run.
Emergency supply list: See this link for a sample emergency supply list.
A note about wildlife:
Many wildlife may be migrating away from their homes within the fire zones towards neighborhoods. Please bring in your pets to keep them safe from wildlife. Also, please put buckets of water out for the wildlife. They will be scared and tired. If wildlife enters your property area, you may call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (509) 427-5905.
Visit https://www.fws.gov/ for more information.
Above ALL else, we hope everyone stays safe and well. Our final bit of advice is to take it easy on yourself. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and we are facing the threat of wildfires, as school is starting. That is a lot! It is OK to have hard days and to grieve for the heavy impacts 2020 has had on us. Allow yourself and your family to feel big feelings in a responsible way. Please let us know if you need materials or resources for helping your children manage big feelings. We will be delighted to send some your way or deliver them to you.
Please feel free to reach out anytime if we can support you, your child and family in any way.
Take deep breaths (inside). We are all in this together.
All the best,
Dr. Ralph Pruitt, Superintendent
Sierra Preston, Counselor