Wildfires are Worsening, The World Must Prevent and Prepare

“When it comes to wildfire trends, the last five years in California have really been something else. It’s really been hard to watch. It’s pretty rare to see such large, dramatic step changes as what we’ve seen in California in the last five to 10 years. We’ve broken every record, and we’ve broken them several times. Largest, most destructive, deadliest—all of these have now been set and, I think, set again.” Says Daniel Swain, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA.

Well that is just California, what is the big deal? Fires are actually happening across the world and they are devastating. Fires are atrocious, they create many awful side effects, such as harming human health. Particles in smoke can penetrate deep into your lungs, leading to anything from burning and itchy eyes to chronic heart disease and premature death. Fires can be deadly. In fact, California alone the fire’s death rate was about 11.7 as of 2018. Also, the fires are continuing to get worse. Fifteen out of 20 of the largest wildfires have happened since the 2000s and ten of the most costly and most destructive have happened since 2015. 


But, one way everyone can help prevent wildfires is by addressing climate change. The California Air Resource Board says, “Climate change, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires not only in California but also all over the world. Since 1950, the area burned by California wildfires each year has been increasing, as spring and summer temperatures have warmed and spring snowmelt has occurred earlier.” If we recognize climate change is happening and try to control it, we can help wildfires be prevented through the process.””


Here are some ways ordinary people across the world can help slow climate change.  Obviously there is no one size fits all approach because it depends on where you live, but you can support businesses that are environmentally friendly, upper limit on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, and try to bike or walk more to destinations so less gas gets into the atmosphere. 


One major cause of wildfires is humans, just like you or me. How can we prevent humans from contributing to and causing damaging wildfires? More laws to prevent people from leaving cigarettes, burning debris, and leaving campfires unattended can help prevent fires. Governments can also create more awareness that humans definitely can cause fires and show the damage they can cause. 


If a fire does start, it is best to be prepared. Every family can equip themselves with a Family Disaster Plan. This plan consists of; learning how to use a fire extinguisher, planning evacuation routes, designating an emergency meeting spot, buying a portable radio or scanner, and practicing family communication. 


Having a plan is extremely useful, but if a fire is approaching your area, then you must use an inside and outside checklist. The inside checklist consists of shutting the windows and doors, moving flammable furniture away from windows and doors, shutting off the air conditioning, and leaving on your lights so the firefighters can find your house through the smoke. The outside checklist is bringing flammable items inside, turning off sprinklers and taking in propane tanks, and evacuating as soon as possible. 


Wildfires can be dangerous and scary, but with the preparation and prevention methods I mentioned, the fires have a chance of being controlled and people affected can be safer.