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Wildfire season is looming. What can you do to adapt?

posted May 30, 2019, 4:46 PM by Simon Bakke   [ updated May 30, 2019, 4:46 PM ]
As you’ve likely noticed, Northwest Washington has witnessed an abnormally dry spring — with almost four months of below-normal rainfall. Our region of the Salish Sea is at 47% of normal snow water equivalent, and snowpack is expected to melt before the end of summer. Experts are predicting a long season of drought and wildfires. We just hit a level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide not seen since humans walked the earth. And a warming climate means our summers are increasingly more likely to put us in drought conditions. Now, a statewide drought emergency announced by Governor Inslee has been expanded to half the state, including the Nooksack and Skagit rivers.

Since we know climate change is not going anywhere soon, it’s time to adapt and prepare for the changes we’re already experiencing. Here are four climate change preparedness resources you can use this season:

  1. Green your yard: adapt your lawn for drought and climateresilience. Americans use 1/3 of all residential water for irrigation — mostly of lawns, which are dead zones for bird, bee, and insect habitat, and generators of fertilizer, pesticides, and gas-powered equipment emissions.
  2. Protect your home and help prevent forest fires from spreading. Taking precautions like clearing brush, trees, and other flammable materials away from your home, and installing metal roofs on structures, can help create fire-resilient communities.
  3. Help your neighborhood become a Fire Adapted Community. Fire Adapted Communities use their shared understanding of fires to invest in planning ahead. Neighbors, fire professionals, local business owners and city planners take actions that can help communities live more safely with wildfire.
  4. Learn how to decrease your risk from wildfire smoke and detox after smoke inhalation. Wildfire smoke, because of the particulate matter in the smoke, causes health effects in people with a respiratory problems (especially asthma), in the young, and in the elderly. Even if the air looks clear, air with particulate matter can persist for months.
    1. Check your local air quality: The Washington Smoke Information blog has up-to-date info and a map of areas with air quality concerns. 
    2. The Washington Department of Health's FAQ page has more about how to care for yourself and your family when it's smoky outside.
Stay safe out there!