In the past few years, you may have seen news coverage of wildfires in all regions of the United States. It starts with a massive flame quickly spreading through dry air and ends with a long-lasting fire that can devastate entire neighborhoods and communities. These wildfires have become a constant in late summer, and unfortunately, we will be seeing more activity as wildfire season quickly approaches.
Aside from the effects of burnt forest land, damaged ecosystems, and destroyed structures, wildfires have other important ramifications. In this post, we will explore America’s wildfire season, the places it impacts, and the long-lasting consequences of wildfires on human health.
When is Wildfire Season?
The most common time for wildfires in the United States is in the late summer, with August being the most consequential month. This month occurs when most places have hot and dry conditions. In August, wildfires can occur all the way from Florida to Northern California, due to the lack of rainfall and rising temperatures. You will see far fewer wildfires during the winter and spring as temperatures have decreased and the environment sees more precipitation.
Does Climate Affect Wildfires?
As climate change worsens, wildfires have become larger and more frequent. Climate change has made rain droughts more common, which sets up ideal conditions for a wildfire. Wind gusts have worsened, which allows the wildfire to spread faster and increase its range. These changes in climate have resulted in regular wildfires becoming much larger and much more impactful. Meteorologists will sometimes refer to these large wildfires as megafires.
Megafires can cover over 100,000 acres and can become larger if high temperatures and extreme drought are present. Unfortunately, this can mean vast and quick destruction to human life and surrounding ecosystems.
Where are Wildfires Most Common?
Wildfires are most common in the East and Midwest regions, believe it or not. In the West, however, wildfires are substantially larger and more damaging, which is why they receive the most news coverage. For example, there were over 35,000 wildfires in the East and Midwest in 2021, compared to the West’s 23,000.
Though the East and Midwest saw more wildfires than the West, they only saw the destruction of approximately 1,000,000 acres. The wildfires and megafires in the Western U.S. wreaked havoc on 6,200,000 acres of land. California, in particular, sees the most damage during a wildfire season. The state saw nearly 6,000 structures burnt down because of wildfires in just 2021 alone. Over half of these were residences, resulting in thousands of displaced Californians.
What Enters the Air and What Does it Do?
Wildfires, unfortunately, can emit several toxic pollutants into the air, specifically fine particulate matter. Fine particulate matter can cause inhalants to suffer from asthma, other lung conditions, and heart disease. The larger these fires grow, the more pollutants they emit, exposing more nearby residents to toxic pollutants in the process.
Sadly, those with preexisting conditions can suffer even further from their ailments with increased exposure to pollutants. Essentially, those who are already vulnerable must be even more vigilant about the quality of the air they are breathing. Whether you are impacted by lung disease, autoimmune disorder, or any other health issue, chances are the increased pollutants from wildfires can have a major impact on your health.
What Can You Do To Prepare for Wildfires?
There are a variety of preparations and preemptive actions you can take to better prepare yourself for wildfire season. The first, and most important, is to learn more about your area’s evacuation route and plan. While we all hope we are never in this situation, you need to be prepared to evacuate the area in the event of a wildfire or megafire.
If you are not familiar with these plans, it may be exceedingly difficult to navigate an evacuation amid the pressures of a raging wildfire. Your local or state government should have a clear plan of evacuation, and you should familiarize yourself with it by doing at least one practice run.
Next, you should prepare an emergency toolkit that contains items like respiratory masks, first aid kits, and clean drinking water. Hopefully, you will not need to use these, but it is essential to have on hand in a worst-case scenario event where you may be left stranded near a wildfire.
Some basic house preparation includes designating one room in your home as your safe room. Keep the windows to this room closed and set up an air filtration system. The idea behind a designated room is to keep one safe area in your home where the air is safe to breathe, even if there are massive smoke gusts outside.
Other house preparations should include cleaning your roof, removing dead leaves from gutters, fixing broken windows or screens, and moving all flammable items away from the walls of your home. While these cannot prevent your home from coming in the way of a wildfire, they can help your structure’s chance of survival.
The Value of an Air Purifier
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a high-quality air purifier if you live somewhere that may be susceptible to wildfires. It keeps the quality of the air inside your home clean and clear of toxic pollutants. This is especially important in times when your surrounding air quality may be negatively impacted by wildfires.
WYND Technologies offer multiple products that can help solve your home’s air quality issues. If you or your family live in an area susceptible to wildfires, not only is a good air purifier a luxury, but a life-changing investment.