Adding to the list of wildfires burning through California, the Rey Fire has broken out within miles of Direct Relief’s medical distribution warehouse in Santa Barbara.
As of Monday evening, the fire has scorched 23,000 acres and stands at 20 percent containment.
Wildfires pose serious health risks beyond the flames themselves. The smoke contains particulate matter that can hurt the eyes, irritate the respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung conditions, especially in children. Additionally, any rapid, mass evacuation raises general health risks for evacuees, particularly those who require medications to manage chronic conditions, like asthma and diabetes. Medications are often left behind as people flee their homes in an emergency.
Direct Relief maintains a standing supply of fire-related items – N-95 particulate masks (which have a higher filtration than paper and surgical masks) as well as other fire-related inventory such as inhalers and nebulizers, first-aid products, medical supplies for eye irritation, and personal care products.
In coordination with a broad network of local responders – the County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department, the County Office of Emergency Services, the Central California Chapter of the American Red Cross, members of the local VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters), and other community groups – Direct Relief is standing ready to mobilize these resources as needed.