Once again, Northwest Washington finds itself in drought conditions with poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke. A warming climate means our summers are increasingly more likely to include longer dry seasons. Fire suppression and monoculture tree-planting from industrial forestry operations are combining with hotter, drier summer conditions to yield devastating, record-breaking wildfire seasons throughout the Pacific Northwest.
First and foremost, we need to transition of off fossil fuels as quickly as humanly possible. We also need to embrace a more climate-friendly approach to forest management. At the same time, we know climate change is not going anywhere soon. It’s time to adapt and prepare for wildfires and the changes we’re already experiencing. Here are four wildfire preparedness resources you can use this season:
- Green your yard: adapt your lawn for drought and climate resilience. 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. Lawn Love also offers a guide for fire-resistant landscaping.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.