Wildfire Safety While Traveling


As Wildfire season across the northern hemisphere continues along with an increase in outdoor recreation, vacationers should take extra safety measures in the event of an unpredictable situation. If you're planning to travel to the western United States, planning vacations around wildfires and taking proper precautions when in an area prone to hazard is essential to consider before you go. 

Wildfires are a common natural hazard that typically affects regions with seasonally dry and hot climates and rural areas of combustible vegetation. When these conditions are met, various ignition sources, including lightning, arson, recreational activity, and industrial accidents can cause a fire to break out. Fires can destroy homes and property, cause mass evacuations, and disruptive and harmful smoke. Due to prolonged periods of high temperatures, difficult terrain, and limited visibility due to smoke, authorities face difficulties in containing such fires.

The Current Wildfire Season
In the last decade, the intensity and frequency of wildfires have increased. In the United States, the Dixie Fire became the second-largest wildfire in the history of California; The ongoing Bootleg Fire in Oregon is currently the third-largest fire in the state's history. 

With average temperatures rising globally, the threat from wildfires will likely continue to increase in the coming years. If wildfires start to impact previously unaffected areas regularly, the lack of local emergency equipment could significantly exacerbate the challenges in containing them and mitigating related disruption. 

Tips and Advice When Traveling
Travelers who frequently visit areas prone to wildfires should sign up to the region's emergency alert system (EAS), if available. When a wildfire warning is issued, get to safety right away and follow all guidelines. Before leaving on a trip to a wildfire-prone area, get the most current information on weather, wildfire status, and air quality. 

When visiting an area prone to wildfires, develop a safety plan, including making sure you are prepared in case of an emergency. According to the Colorado Search and Rescue Association, pack "the ten essentials," which are the items needed if you must spend an unplanned night outdoors. The list includes: navigation tools (map, compass, GPS device, personal locator beacon or satellite messenger); a headlamp; sun protection; first-aid supplies; a knife; fire starter (matches or lighter); shelter (a lightweight emergency bivy sack suffices); extra food; extra water; and synthetic layers/additional masks/extra clothes. 

Abide by local restrictions when visiting wildfire-prone areas to guard against causing an accidental wildfire. If there is a fire ban in place, do not build a campfire at your site. If not, abide by fire prevention actions such as clearing the area of nearby brush before starting a campfire and having firefighting equipment on site. Be aware of weather forecasts and avoid potentially dangerous weather patterns, including excessive heat, low humidity, and strong winds. If there is a high risk in the area you are traveling, consider changing your plans to stay out of risk. 
Posted: 9/3/2021 12:42:30 PM