Wildfire Survivors and Firefighters: Giving the Right Help

Wildfire Survivors and Firefighters

Scientists say that the wildfires from July of this year were some of the worst on record. The wildfires, which were triggered by prolonged drought and extreme heat, ignited grasslands and forests across the world. In turn, they have produced 343 megatonnes worth of carbon.

But if we’re ignoring the science for a bit, people were deeply affected as well. In 2020, 33 people succumbed to the wildfire season, some of them being firefighters. In this same year, so many homes and sources of livelihood were destroyed. This gave birth to the clarion call to count properties and livelihoods destroyed and not just acres.

If you have been devastated by the wildfires that have been ravaging the West Coast in the past few years, here are some ways you can extend help to the survivors and the firefighters.

Involve it in your company’s CSR

If you have a company, you can incorporate it into your corporate social responsibility (CSR). No matter how big or small your business is, you can do your part by leveraging whatever financial, social, and human resources you have to help those who were affected by the wildfires. Here are some ideas for how you can use your company’s CSR to help wildfire survivors and firefighters:

  • Provide protective gear from reputable brands like CarbonX. They are known for producing the most reliable personal protective equipment (PPE) and fire-resistant gear for optimal protection and safety. Coordinate with local officials from your state to ask if the fire department needs more of these types of PPE so that every firefighter is properly shielded when they’re doing their job.
  • Your company can launch a disaster relief initiative that can cater to wildfire survivors. They can also extend a hand to those who might be affected by other natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, and others.

Donate cash

Since hundreds of thousands of families suddenly found themselves without homes and sources of livelihood, their most pressing need is financial resources. Chances are, survivors don’t need your old toys or clothes you want to dispose of us. They may not necessarily need canned goods, bottled water, or diapers that were shipped from faraway locations, and relief organizations near them may already be on top of those basic needs anyway.

Since the needs of survivors will vary from place to place, day to day, and disaster to disaster, your safest bet is to just cash assistance so that the responding organizations have the flexibility to buy services and goods that the survivors need the most at any given moment. In addition, when we insist on providing unrequested in-kind donations, we might be robbing them of valuable space, time, and energy since they will be forced to process and store these donations instead of focusing on the survivors.

Do not be too quick to volunteer

Unless you’re already in the area and have some training with search and rescue, you may not necessarily be needed on the ground as soon as possible. The days, weeks, and even months after a big disaster can be incredibly chaotic and challenging. Communications and electric systems are often down, suppliers are lacking, and roads are blocked. This is a scenario that can be dangerous not just for survivors but also for volunteers.

The number one priority of first responders is to save lives, and the second is to recover bodies. The last thing you want is to be another warm body they need to take care of and prioritize. Your presence could also be taking away from valuable resources that could otherwise go to the survivors.

Be in it for the long haul

If we truly want to help, we need to be committed to providing survivors and those living in at-risk areas with long-term support. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a staggering 70 to 80 percent of disaster funding is allocated for short-term relief. The majority of that amount is provided within the first few months after the disaster.

If you truly want to provide the kind of help that will last a long time, consider planning your donations in such a way that will allow you to send financial resources for a long time. Another way to help for the long term is by participating in initiatives that lobby for disaster risk reduction, especially as we now live in a climate emergency.

There is so much happening in the world, but we can find ways to extend help to those who need it the most. Consider these pointers as you look for avenues to assist and provide relief to survivors of wildfires.

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