5 Ways to Stay Safe During Wildfire Season

Large parts of the Pacific Northwest and West are aflame at the moment, leading to decreased air quality and mandatory evacuations in some towns.

Wildfires have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1980s. The Union of Concerned Scientists points to climate change as a possible influence, bringing about more droughts and arid areas.

Here’s how to maintain your health when confronted by smoky skies and other fire hazards.

1. Be selective about going outside.

Those with asthma and the very old and young are especially susceptible to the smoke that’s spreading across the country. If you’re a member of a sensitive group, consider checking the air quality before you spend extra time outside. Athletes, too, should consider exercising inside if the smoke gets too intense.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a helpful resource called AirNow that offers local warnings.

2. Heed evacuation warnings.

If you’re near an area that’s burning, be sure to check any warnings before you hike your favorite trail.

Also, take evacuation warnings seriously. Tune in to a local radio or TV station to stay aware of blocked roads and other hazards. Plan an escape route, and leave immediately. Traffic may add hours to your normal commute time.

Paying attention — and listening to experts — saves lives.

3. Pack a “go-bag.”

To rapidly respond to an evacuation, those near fire zones should gather basic supplies for themselves and their families – pets included.

A good emergency kit has resources like a flashlight, battery-powered radio and water and food to last at least three days.

Be sure to include gas for your car if you need to make a swift escape.

4. Prepare your home.

Ready.gov recommends clearing your yard of flammable materials within 30 feet of your home. Clean your gutters and roof, and update home insurance records — like a catalog of your possessions.

Thin vegetation from up to 200 feet away, working with your neighbors if possible. “Fuel breaks” like driveways and lawns are extremely helpful, as well.

5. Return carefully.

If evacuated, wait for the experts’ go-ahead before heading home. And be forewarned, this can take weeks.

Ready.gov recommends spending a few hours on alert for any stray sparks, smoke or fire embers — especially on the roof or attic.

Don’t assume burned areas are safe, and leave if you smell smoke.

Photo Credit: Gilitukha

279 comments

natasha p
Past Member 9 months ago

so scary

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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joan silaco
joan silacoabout a year ago

TYFS

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Philippa P
Philippa Powersabout a year ago

Thanks.

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Ian C
Ian Croryabout a year ago

ty :0)

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Patricia D
Patricia Dabout a year ago

Thanks for the info.

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Mike H
Mike Habout a year ago

Thank you

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Renata B
Renata B1 years ago

Actually at the moment I think the US should worry more about wind and water alas. I heard there is another hurricane coming. But of course climate change is a hoax of the Democrats (or is it of the Chinese?) We have a choice lol.

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Carol S
Carol S1 years ago

Good advice!

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Julia S
Julia S1 years ago

Thank you!

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