Fire Prevention Month Shines Spotlight on Air Quality
October is Fire Prevention Month. Many people living in California and other Western states would like nothing better than to see wildfires prevented. Instead, they’re witnessing a record-breaking wildfire season.
In a few moments I’m going to provide you with some tips on how to help prevent fires. Wherever they might occur. And let you know how these fires affect air quality.
First, though, let’s take a look at what has occurred in the West recently. So far during this “wildfire season,” 30 people have died in California.
Thousands more have been displaced by blazes that have burned more than 4 million acres of land. As well as destroying more than 7,000 homes and other structures. Unfortunately, this tragedy is still unfolding.
Largest Wildfire Season Ever
Five of the largest fires in modern California history have occurred in the past two months. That’s according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
That makes this year the largest wildfire season ever for California. The biggest fire in state history – the August Complex – has burned more than 1 million acres in five counties.
Many of these fires are in steep and hilly terrain amidst high winds. And often high heat. This makes it even more challenging for exhausted firefighters.
Two other highly destructive fires are the Glass and Zogg fires. The Glass Fire has destroyed more than 630 homes and 400 commercial properties. Including many vineyards. Nearly 60,000 acres have burned.
At least four people have died from the Zogg Fire in Shasta County. It has burned over 55,000 acres. And destroyed more than 200 structures.
Oregon, Washington Also Hit Hard
While wildfires are worse in California than elsewhere, it’s also been a rough year for other states as well.
At least 11 people have died and more than 1 million acres in Oregon have been burned this year.
That’s nearly double the average devastation for the state. The Riverside and Beachie Creek fires are among the major blazes there.
In Washington state, hundreds have lost their homes due to the Cold Springs Fire and others. The fires have scorched more than 700,000 acres.
How to Avoid Wildfires
Here are those promised tips to help you prevent wildfires.
- When you leave a campsite, make sure the fire is completely extinguished. Use water or ashes to put out the flames. And make sure there is nothing surrounding the fire pit, such as loose kindling or branches, that could catch fire from a spark.
- Use fireworks only in clear areas with no flammable materials nearby.
- Rake pine needles and dry leaves within three to five feet of your home’s foundation. As time permits, continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
- Get out your measuring tape to see how close woodpiles and propane tanks are to your home. If closer than 30 feet, you need to move them.
- Sweep porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures. Make sure you dispose of debris.
- Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less.
- On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to cut low-hanging tree branches. They should be at least four feet from the ground.
- Gather any tree limbs and broken branches on the ground. Take them to a disposal site.
- Don’t store items under decks and porches. It’s better to store them in a storage shed, garage or basement. Don’t store gasoline cans and portable propane tanks indoors. You should store them away from the home.
- Proof your roof. Your roof will be protected when embers from nearby wildfires land on it if it is made of nonflammable materials such as asphalt shingles, metal, slate or tile. Remove leaves and pine needles from your gutters.
- Keep embers out. Cover exterior vent openings with one-eighth inch hardware cloth. That should keep out embers, which can catch carpets, shades and furniture on fire. Replace missing shingles or tiles on your roof. Use double-paned or tempered glass for your windows.
- Keep other items away from the house. Including mulch, plants containing oils and resins (such as juniper and pine), and materials from building projects.
Air Quality Is Affected
In addition to the loss of life and land devastation, wildfires worsen air quality conditions across the West.
Even as far east as Colorado, they’re experiencing the highest levels of air pollution in a decade.
According to National Public Radio, the reach and intensity of dangerous air pollution produced by wildfires in 2020 is the worst on record.
One in seven Americans lives in a county that has experienced at least one “unhealthy or worse” air quality day during this year’s wildfire season. That’s approximately 50 million people.
Are You at Risk?
When there are wildfires, flecks of ash become lodged in eyes and noses. This causes symptoms such as itchy eyes and sore throats. As well as headaches and nausea.
But it is the fine particulates (2.5 microns in diameter or less) that represent the bigger health hazard.
High-risk groups for these types of symptoms are those 65 years of age and older, and children.
And it’s not only out West. The American Lung Association reports that 40 percent of Americans live in states that have unhealthy levels of air pollution.
Patriot Pure Air
Some of that air pollution gets inside our homes. And joins with other airborne contaminants already there. That’s why indoor air can be even more harmful than outdoor air.
Americans spend nearly 90 percent of their time indoors. So, you can see the problem… even if you can’t actually see it.
Fortunately, there’s a very easy way to protect yourself from mold spores, smoke, dust mites and toxic particulates. Plus pollen, pet dander, volatile organic compounds and more.
It’s called the Patriot Pure Air Purification System. At only 17 pounds, it’s easy to move from room to room. With a simple push of a button, it uses a seven-stage filtration system to help you breathe easier.