Alt Title: How Climate Change Affects Fire
Bringing higher temperatures, more volatile weather, and a host of other climate issues, global climate change is having an increasing effect on the outbreak of wildfires. What does this mean in the realm of fire prevention and fire safety? And what should you do if your home or business is in an area associated with wildfires?
The Complex Relationship Between Climate Change and Wildfires
“Wildfire season” is a recurring period of time in which wildfires are more likely for a given area. August is typically the peak month here, when temperatures are high and conditions are dry enough to make wildfires a near-inevitability.
But today’s wildfire season is approximately three and a half months longer than it was just a few decades ago.
Why is this the case?
The most important root cause is rising temperatures. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day and from season to season, making it difficult for the average person to gauge major changes in the overall climate. But we’re starting to see higher temperatures, on average, across all seasons and from year to year. Higher temperatures lead to more evaporation, making the ground drier and making all forms of vegetation more flammable.
Rising temperatures are also leading to winter snowpacks melting earlier and more completely, essentially prolonging the dry season. And on top of that, climate change-influenced meteorological patterns can send rain away from drought-ridden regions that need it most.
It’s worth noting that the majority of wildfires aren’t spontaneous or related to natural phenomena (like lightning). Instead, 85 percent of wildfires are started by human beings. There are many potential initiating causes, both intentional and unintentional, such as arson, unattended campfires, irresponsible burning of debris, discarded cigarettes, and malfunctioning equipment.
Once the wildfire is started, the conditions created by climate change make the wildfire spread easily, causing widespread damage.
Ultimately, climate change has the following effects on wildfires:
· Extending wildfire season. For starters, climate change makes wildfire season longer. Wildfires emerge earlier and later than usual, sometimes encroaching beyond summer months and creeping into the spring and fall. If conditions are dry enough, a wildfire can start.
· Exacerbating dry conditions. If there is sufficient moisture in the ground and in the vegetation, wildfires have a hard time spreading. But thanks to climate change, conditions are drier than ever before. It's very easy for fires to start and grow out of control.
· Producing bigger wildfires. Similarly, climate change has led to the production of bigger, more intense wildfires. With access to more fuel and a bigger range, these fires can consume more materials and cost millions of extra dollars in damages.
· Expanding the spread of wildfires. Because conditions are dry and winds are high, it's easy for a fire to spread for miles. People who historically never had to worry about wildfires are now seeing them in their backyard.
· Making wildfires harder to fight. Climate change even makes wildfires harder to fight. Because rain is sparse in areas most susceptible to wildfires, and water accessibility is questionable, these fires burn for a longer time.
As you can see, climate change makes things much more dangerous.
Preparing for Wildfire Season
If you're preparing for a wildfire season, or if you just want a better sense of security in this era of increased wildfire risk, these are the most important steps to take.
· Install a better fire suppression system. The right fire suppression system can keep your entire building secure, activating at the first sign of a fire. With modular, pre-engineered systems, you can quickly and inexpensively install fire suppression materials in practically any space and for an affordable cost. Additionally, you can install a clean agent fire suppression system to minimize damage to your property. A singular fire suppression system may not be enough to stop a wildfire in its tracks, but it can delay the spread and keep you and your property safer.
· Remove combustible materials from windows and walls. Once we enter wildfire season, it's important to remove any combustible materials from the windows and walls of your home. If you fail to do this, it will be easy for your home to catch on fire, allowing the fire to spread faster and putting your life in jeopardy.
· Remove wooden and combustible lawn furniture. Similarly, it's a good idea to remove any wooden or combustible lawn furniture or other items you have in the yard. There's not much you can do about dry grass, trees, or other vegetation on your property. But you can remove any combustible materials that can make matters worse.
· Utilize water distribution systems you have accessible. Consider making use of any water distribution systems you have accessible. For example, if you have access to lawn sprinklers, and you're currently allowed to use them, you can activate them and saturate your property. Again, this probably won't be able to stop the wildfire in its tracks, but it will make it much harder for the wildfire to spread, buying you time to escape and potentially protecting your property.
· Prepare an emergency kit. A wildfire is a genuine emergency and a highly destructive natural disaster. That's why it's important to have an emergency kit on hand, complete with a first aid kit, so you have all the supplies you need to stay safe.
· Have an escape plan. Finally, have an escape plan (and a backup escape plan). If the wildfire is burning beyond control, and your property is in the line of destruction, you need to get yourself and your family as far away from the situation as possible. If your main route is blocked, where will you go?
Are you ready for wildfire season? Is your home or business as protected as it should be? With modular, pre-engineered fire suppression systems in place, you can keep yourself safe even during the most severe wildfire seasons.
If you’re interested in learning more about how these systems work, or if you’re ready for a free quote, contact us today!