WILDFIRES IN THE SUMMER MONTHS...THE NEW NORM?
Here in Seattle, we are used to having grey skies, but this is a different kind of grey! The smoke that is filling our region is creating a cloud of debris and particulates that are dimming our beauty and creating real health hazards.
Is this our new norm? I ask this question, as this is the second year that we have had the wildfire smoke from Canada drift down to our region. In researching for this weekly tip, I ran across many articles on this topic and learned that scientists believe this will likely be our new norm.
In one article, written on August 14th, 2018 by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM), I learned that human caused wildfires burned 228,000 acres in 2017 and that Oregon's Department of Forestry responded to 30 human caused fires in the past week alone.
They go on to indicate that we can prevent these human caused events and have partnered with other state agencies to spread the word with the following tips to prevent human-caused events, thus allowing the firefighters to concentrate on unpreventable lightning-caused wildfires.
Here are the tips they provided in the article:
• Mow before 10am, but never when it's windy or excessively dry.
• Lawn mowers are designed to cut lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and subsequently start fires.
• (Specific to Oregon) Check Keep Oregon Green for current conditions and restrictions in your area, and always keep fire-fighting tools on hand.
• Wildfires sparked along roadways may be caused by traveling motorists.
• Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
• Maintain proper tire pressure; driving on exposed wheel rims will throw sparks.
• Properly maintain brakes, brakes worn too thin may cause metal-to-metal contact which can cause a spark.
• Practice safe towing. Check for dragging chains, use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains.
• Don't drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush; hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won't even see until it's too late.
• Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and lean how to use it. (Personal note here, make sure it is secure in your vehicle, I had one roll around in my trunk that allowed the pin to dislodge and went off! Huge mess and significant clean up resulted.)
• Maintain a defensible space around your home. (To learn more about this visit Ready.gov or visit this site.)
• Remove dead trees to reduce wildfire risk.
These tips are certainly something to remember during these warmer, drier months. WA State DNR has a site that outlines more prevention tips. I would encourage you to look there too, as they offer some additional tips and specific information on burn bans in the State of WA.
In addition to learning some simple prevention tips, we also encourage you to familiarize yourself and loved ones with wildfire evacuation plans for where you live and for areas that you visit in your travels! As well as visit the AirNow site, where you can monitor the air quality. You simply visit the site and can enter only your zip code for your specific air quality index or enter the State of interest to reveal a list of cities within the State and their respective air quality index ratings.
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With National Preparedness Month, in September, quickly approaching, we are offering a special promotion for an educational seminar, response plan development, tabletop exercise or drill to organizations that would like HT2 to develop, deliver and/or lead a session. For those of you that are residential recipients of these tips, you are welcome to schedule a home safety consultation. You must book your 1-selected service by the end of September to be eligible for the 10% promotional reduction and your offices or residence must be located in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area.
If you can't commit at this time consider reaching out later. Should you need further assistance or want additional resources, please contact us. To learn more about preparedness measures or to schedule a presentation, safety walk, tabletop exercise, home consultation or general consultation with HT2, please Click Here!