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Wildfire Preparedness!

by: Paige Land

We’re all excited that the weather is warming and Summer is officially here, but as Nevada residents we all know that Summer is also the start of the dreaded wildfire season. Wildfires can occur at any time of the year, but the peak season is considered June through October in the western United States. The reason many wildfires occur during these months is due to high temperatures and dry vegetation.

During this time, many of us can feel helpless towards this natural disaster, but this week’s blog is here to help explain ways you can be better prepared for wildfire season.

One important thing to take into consideration is where you are located in a city or community, which helps determine your risk of wildfire. A great resource to understand your risk is Wildfire Risk to homes in Reno which takes into account the likelihood and intensity of a wildfire as well as the exposure and susceptibility. This resource shows communities closer to the center of town have lower risk, while communities on the outside of town have a higher risk of wildfire. If you live in an area on the outside of town that has a yard, it’s important to maintain the area at least 100 feet away from your house and any structures. This includes clearing any dried and dead vegetation from anywhere in your yard and in odd spaces like gutters and under decks. Another good tip is if you have a deck with an open bottom, create a barrier with mesh to keep debris out. Make sure to remove low hanging branches that may touch your roof.

Having a plan for what you would do in the scenario of a wildfire close to your residence can help save your life. There are so many factors to be considered, what is essential to bring? Do you have animals or family members that need assistance? How many routes are there to get out of your neighborhood? Where will you go? Having an answer to these questions will help in a situation where you may be under evacuation orders when there is limited time to plan. If your community is under an evacuation order, you will likely receive a warning on your cell phone and you can check the status by visiting news resources on TV or the radio.

One wildfire effect that plagues our city is the smoke. I’m sure we all remember last wildfire season where the air quality index was hazardous (above 300) for some time. It limits our ability to enjoy our outdoor spaces, but it’s important to understand the health effects it can have on us. The AQI (Air Quality Index) measures fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) which are small particles in the air that can reduce our visibility and be breathed in. An AQI of 51 or more can pose health risks to those sensitive to air pollution. Anything above 151 can pose health risks to some members in the public and everyone is encouraged to reduce any strenuous outdoor activity. An AQI higher than 301 is considered a health emergency to everyone and all members of the public should avoid any activity outdoors. It’s important to know how smoke can affect you personally what health risks it may pose to you. To better understand how you should take action when it is smoky check out this resource Air quality Guide for Particle Pollution, and if it seems hazy outside always check the AQI levels by looking through a weather channel or the internet. And Don’t forget about your furry friends! Being outside in smoke can pose a risk to our beloved animals, and they should keep outdoor activities low as well.

This time can be hard for all of us and it’s important to consider our mental health during these events. I know I personally really struggle with not being able to explore our amazing green spaces with my dog, it’s one of my favorite outlets when I feel stressed. Last summer was particularly hard, but I made sure to take care of myself by finding new hobbies like painting to do inside as well as activities to keep my dog entertained! Make sure to check in with yourself and loved ones during the fire season!

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