Australia is currently weathering a particularly brutal wildfire season, with a death toll of 18 people and more than 1,000 homes destroyed. Firefighters are struggling to contain the fires as they sweep the southeast coast—New South Wales has been hit especially hard—and thousands of residents and tourists alike have been evacuated from the region.
The dry, hot Australian summers spark fires every year, but many believe climate change has paved the way for more extreme weather conditions, which exacerbate the effects of natural disasters. And the fires are unlikely to let up anytime soon: Officials have announced that this weekend could bring the worst conflagration yet, with strong winds and highs of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re wondering how you can help from halfway across the globe, here are a few things you can do right now:
- Donate to local fire brigades in the state of New South Wales, which is especially at risk this weekend.
- You can also donate to the families of firefighters who have died while on duty.
- Thousands of animals have died in the fires, with estimates as high as half a billion animals killed since September. Help support the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New South Wales, which is assisting with evacuation and rescue efforts for animals affected by the fires.
- Give to the emergency fund for Wires, a group that rescues wildlife and relies heavily on volunteers and donations.
- The koala population in Australia is already declining, and the fires have left them even more vulnerable. Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which has rescued more than 30 injured koalas and is at work building drinking stations for wildlife in impacted regions across New South Wales.
- Support families affected by the fires by donating to the Salvation Army’s disaster appeal or the bushfire appeal fund set up by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The fund tells you how your donation amount will help those in need: Giving $50, for example, can provide food for an evacuated family.
- The best way to help is through monetary donations. But if you’re based in Australia, you can donate clothing and other items to victims in need through organizations such as Givit.