Get Ready for Hot Wildfire Summer
Fire risk to more properties are rising
We hope y’all are getting ready for the upcoming three day weekend with Memorial Day. Whether you are planning to spend time with family BBQing in the park or hanging out with friends by the beach, most of the country will be feeling the heat.
Wildfires broke out much earlier this year than usual across the United States, with climate change, erratic winds and a long drought continuing to increase the frequency and intensity. The U.S. Forest Service often plans prescribed fires to help reduce the threat of extreme fires, but this year a prescribed fire escaped containment lines and now forms the largest ongoing fire in the U.S.
Recently, the First Street Foundation released data calculating the potential wildfire risk for every property in the U.S. The federal government maps flood risk, but doesn’t map out wildfires — something that will continue to be more important as high prices push people into more high risk wildfire areas.
We wanted to share some of the ways to check if your house is at risk of a wildfire. You can also use this longer weekend to prepare for a wildfire for you and your loved ones.
The 101 on Wildfires
Wildfires typically burn in rural areas, and tear down forests, crops, homes, animals, and anything in its way. Over the past decade have destroyed 7.4M acres per year.
Natural wildfires are caused by the sun's heat or lightning strikes. They feed off of dry shrubbery and the amount of vegetation to burn. They burn faster depending on the weather (high winds and temperature) and steepness of the land. However, over 85% of wildfires are created by humans (arson, campfires, burning garbage, fireworks, cigarettes).
Climate change plays a huge role in wildfires: the hotter and drier the environment, the easier it is to start fires and for them to spread.
Protecting Yourself From Wildfires
Check out the First Street Foundation’s website RiskFactor to learn about your zipcode’s risk for wildfires. It also shares more interesting facts about the area’s vulnerability, what your county is doing/can do to protect the area, and why the risk is changing.
Create a wildfire action plan. Ensure the family knows where gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are located and how to safely turn them off. Plan an emergency meeting location outside the potential fire area, with different escape routes.
Prepare equipment on hand. Have an Emergency Supply Kit and fire extinguishers ready to be used, with an extra potentially in your car. Keep contact numbers kept in the kit as well with a portable radio or scanner.
If you own a home and have the funds, consider fire-proofing your home. Read through the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s tips for preparing your home for wildfires.
Renters should buy renters’ insurance and may be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support, but it should not be expected. You should reach out to your landlord to ensure they are taking the risk seriously. Consider reaching out to the local Fire Department for an assessment in case your landlord isn’t treating this seriously.
Things We're Consuming This Week
🌳 ⅓ of all of the forests lost in 2021 were due to massive wildfires, accumulating incredible amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Check out these wonderful graphics from the Washington Post to see the incredible loss we saw.
⚠️ RiskFactor is now being used in a variety of real estate websites like Redfin and Realtor.com. Learn more about this tool over at NPR. The Washington Post also goes into more depth about its disproportionate risk among minorities.
🥭 Harsh spring temperatures have ruined mango trees in India, often leaving them sparse, bearing little to no fruit.
🐔 Good Meat is planning on building the world’s largest bioreactors in the U.S. to produce cultivated meat using cells taken from cell banks or eggs, so no meat will be slaughtered.
🥵 Check out “Black Gold”, a recent documentary film that focuses on the industry’s efforts to cover up evidence of global warming.
🌀 The Texas Tribune uncovered that funds meant to support Texans recover from Hurricane Harvey are instead being used by wealthier, whiter neighborhoods.
🏭 A new report found that pollution was responsible for one in six deaths worldwide in 2019, with the biggest toll in low- and middle-income countries.
🎲 One community in New Zealand designed a board game to help share the potential effects of flooding to get a community to make changes.
Things You Can Do
🆒 To help reduce air conditioning usage, try to use passive cooling to keep your house or apartment cool. Cover up windows with curtains or shutters. Use fans to move around cool air.
🛍️ If you are purchasing anything from sales this week, do your best to consider slow shipping and purchase items you need. Consider shopping small or second hand!
♨️Trying out a plant based BBQ this memorial day? Here's some that we know will be a hit:
Questions or comments on this piece? Suggestions on what we should cover next? Send us a note.