This summer, the dry, hot weather has produced conditions of drought that have sparked dozens of wildfires across nine states in the Western United States, including California, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. These wildfires have destroyed over half a million acres of land and required large-scale evacuations. On August 26, 2016, the National Interagency Coordination Center published an Incident Management Situation Report outlining the fire activity; the areas affected; and the national preparedness level, which is currently set at level 4, indicating that many fire-fighting resources have already been deployed.
While fire departments do their best to contain the wildfires, local health departments (LHDs) can always mobilize to prepare for and facilitate recovery following fire emergencies. If your local health department is in an area that’s vulnerable to wildfires, NACCHO recommends familiarizing yourself with the following resources and sharing them with your jurisdictions to ensure they know how to act before, during, and after a wildfire:
- Ready.gov: Before, During, and After a Wildfire
- CDC: Wildfire Preparedness – Before, During, and After a Wildfire
- CDC: Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
- EPA: Wildfire Smoke – A Guide for Local Health Officials
- National Resources Defense Council (NRDC): Issue Brief – Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke
- Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization: Hospital Fire Prevention and Evacuation Guide
Preparedness is about being proactive — while you can’t predict the occurrence or magnitude of a wildfire, you can use the resources above to ensure your local health department and the people it serves stay ready.
To request additional resources or assistance, please contact NACCHO’s Preparedness Team.