Wildfires are becoming common in many parts of the world, especially in hot and dry regions. California has been the worst struck state by wildfires over the past few years. Knowing how wildfires can impact your home is essential in such unpredictable times.
Wildfires may impact your house through direct flames and ember storms. These can cause significant structural damage and smoke damage. The water used to put out the fire in your home causes long-term water damage.
For more information on wildfires, please continue reading.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines wildfires as “uncontrolled fires that occur in the wildland-urban interface, including grasslands, forests, peatlands, and other vegetation, often exacerbated by dry conditions and wind.”
Wildfires can significantly impact the environment, the economy, and public health and are a significant concern for many countries worldwide. These can occur anywhere at any time, and the reason for their ignition is often unknown. They can greatly threaten humans, animals, plants, and property.
How Do Wildfires Impact Homes?
Wildfires can have a devastating impact on homes and other structures in their path. Here are some ways in which wildfires can impact homes:
Wildfires hit in several ways, but the most devastating and harmful is when direct flames touch a home. These flames have the potential to completely melt most parts of your house and damage the structure.
If combustible materials are present, they might even worsen the fire.
Ember storms consist of any debris that comes into contact with the wildfire. The strong winds carry these embers everywhere, even in places where the wildfire has not yet reached. When ember storms hit a home, the burning debris may land on parts of the house and cause significant damage.
However, ember storms are only highly destructive if they come in contact with flammable materials. These may include trees, petrol, and lighter fluid.
Smoke damage results from long-term wildfires that do not directly impact homes. The fire might not have come close to the home, but the smoke can cause substantial damage. It leaves a residue on walls and can settle into vents and other materials.
The presence of smoke within a house can cause long-term health damage and may lead to the wear and tear of certain installations in the house.
If wildfires have hit your home and come too close, they will surely have impacted your house’s structure. The foundation is especially vulnerable to damage because of the fire, making the house an unsafe place to live in.
If your house caught on fire, you must have had firefighters spray your house with high amounts of water. The water can cause further damage to the structure and might even take months to dry out.
Due to moisture retention, your house runs the risk of developing mold or the weakening of the structure.
How Do Wildfires Affect The Health Of The Affectees?
Wildfires can significantly impact the health of the people affected by them, both in the short and long term. Here are some of the ways wildfires can affect health:
Smoke and ash from wildfires can cause respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks. People with pre-existing respiratory conditions or allergies may be particularly vulnerable to the long-term effects of wildfire.
The air quality decreases to a point where breathing can become quite difficult.
Besides the smoke you may be inhaling, exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) from wildfires can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes. These are pretty common during times of crisis due to other reasons, such as stress.
The loss and stress caused by wildfires can drastically worsen the mental health of people in affected areas. If houses were burnt down or evacuation had to occur, people could suffer from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. They may also require therapy and rehabilitation once the crisis is over.
After a wildfire, there may be an increase in the risk of infectious diseases due to factors such as contaminated water sources and increased exposure to disease-carrying insects.
How To Protect Your Home Against A Wildfire?
Certain important measures can help to protect your house against wildfire. These actions need to be taken time before the wildfires start. We recommend you do these when the summer season begins to avoid the unexpected.
Create A Defensible Space
A clear space close to your home with no dry vegetation or items that can cause fires is a great step to take to protect your home. This creates a buffer zone, reducing the chances of fire reaching the house. Make sure this area is large enough.
Maintain Your Home’s Exterior
Your home’s exterior is the first to come into contact with fire, and choosing the right materials is crucial. Use fire-resistant materials for roofing and siding, and ensure that vents, eaves, and other openings are screened to prevent embers from entering the home.
Clean your roofs and gutters regularly to avoid material build-up that could cause fires.
Keep Flammable Materials Away From The Home
When you know that wildfire season is around the corner, make a list of every flammable item in your home. These can include firewood and propane tanks. You should gather all these items and move them 30 feet away from the house to reduce the fire risk.
Have An Evacuation Plan
An evacuation plan is necessary because wildfires can be uncontrollable and cause a lot of destruction. It is important to relay the entire plan to all household members so everyone can be proactive and take action when needed.
Staying informed is essential in times of crisis, especially when the risk is high and your life’s on the line. While it is understandable to panic, please stay tuned to the news and local radio and keep an eye on the weather conditions, especially the direction of the winds.
Prepare An Emergency Kit
Prepare an emergency kit that includes important documents, medications, first aid supplies, and other essentials in case of evacuation. This helps you to reestablish life later and also keep your identity on you when you need help.
Wildfires are among the most unexpected natural disasters that can hit a region. Hence, being prepared and vigilant during the summer months is encouraged. Extra caution and preemptive measures can save your house from being damaged beyond repair.