Aug 19 , 2019
It's no longer news that wildfire is a common problem in the United States. It's often devastating as it destroys lives and properties annually. But the smoke these fires produced are harmful and could cause a series of health challenges. For this reason, you need an N95 mask to prepare you for massive wildfires.
The N95 mask is a safety device that protects you from breathing in hazardous substances during wildfires. It covers your nose and mouths. With this respirator, you are less likely to breathe in small particles like dust or mold usually found in the air.
Many people have indirectly become victims of wildfires. You know why? It's because they inhaled excess smoke. And this could lead to instant death when it becomes too much. According to burn institute, most deaths in fire incidents are due to smoke inhalation.
We know that wildfire isn't a new phenomenon. But people still lost their lives due to it. If you are living in some western states in the US, you must have seen wildfires.
Trust me; these fires are frequent, extensive, and last for an extended period. During this period, there's always thick and lung-clogging smoke in the air. Whether you are close to the fire scene or far from it, this smoke will directly or indirectly affect you. Except you are wearing an N95 mask.
If you have been keeping track of the US wildfires, you will understand that it's worth preparing for. In the last two decades, fires have been destroying lives and properties in the United States.
How Do Wildfires Start?
Do you know that 2015 was the largest wildfire season recorded by the US so far? It destroyed over 10 millions acres of land. And whenever wildfires destroy properties, they produce harmful smoke. This smoke could clog your lungs if you aren't wearing a respirator.
According to the US Department of Interior, about 90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans. Most fires are products of unattended campfires, burning of debris, cigarettes carelessly discarded. Lightning and lava can still start campfires but on rare occasions.
Don't forget that wildfires don't sound an alarm when they want to happen. But, if you are always prepared, you wouldn't be on the receiving end. Like I mentioned earlier, most victims of wildfires died of excessive inhalation of harmful smoke. Sadly, an N95 mask or a respirator could have protected them.
Now let me shock you with this information. Between January 1 and July 30, 2019, the United States has recorded 25,619 wildfires. And these fires destroyed about 3.2 million acres of land.
When Is Wildfire Season?
No one can give an accurate season when wildfire usually occurs. The reason for this is because wildfire is due to regional weather patterns and topography. This variation in weather patterns and topography makes wildfire season varies in different places.
So, wildfire season is anytime that the environmental condition of a particular place is optimal for a wildfire to take place. But it's usually when the humidity is low; winds are high with abundant dry fuel. However, the human factor still plays a vital role in the spread of wildfire.
Things That Affect The Spread of Wildfire
The spread of wildfires isn't magical. Certain factors often contribute to the spread of fires, some of them are;
Dry and abundant fuels empower wildfires to spread very fast. If there are twigs and needles around the area where the fire started, it could lead to inferno in no time.
Also, high wind facilitates wildfire spread. It gives the flame more oxygen and increases the temperature.
Can Anybody Predict When and Where Wildfire Will Occur?
As of today, it's difficult to give a reliable prediction on when and where wildfires will occur. You know why? It's because the ignition of fire is caused by unintended or unpredictable human activities and natural causes like lightning.
But once wildfire starts, scientists can predict how it will spread and behave. They carry out this prediction with the help of advanced computational models.
These models use information like the fuel type, topography, and the weather condition. With this data, scientists can accurately predict how wildfires will behave.
Fire managers rely on these models to ascertain if the wildfire that is a threat to lives and properties. Otherwise, they will allow it to run its course. Again, the models will show communities that are at risk of wildfires.
Proactive Steps To Take In A Wildfire
Most people living in the United States don't know what to do during a wildfire. Perhaps, it's the reason there are many casualties during fires every year. In this session, you will learn what to do before, during, and after wildfires.
Below are some of the proactive steps to take before wildfire gets to your area.
- Once you notice that wildfire is spreading to your area very fast, leave before it traps you.
- If your environment is prone to fire, always have an evacuation plan ahead of time.
- Always remove flammable materials from your yard. It's easier to extinguish a fire at its embryonic stage when there are no flammable materials around.
- If possible, always fill sinks, tubs, and other containers with water. This will help to reduce the tendency of fire ignition.
- As a rule, always shut down natural gas, fuel oil supplies, or propane.
- If you can't leave your house due to wildfire, don't hesitate to dial 911. After which you don your N95 mask adequately.
Below are the steps you should take during wildfire
- If possible, leave the area.
- Pay close attention to emergency alerts.
- If you can't leave your house, go to the room with the lowest smoke level. If you have an N95 mask, don it, otherwise, use a wet cloth.
Below are what you should do after a wildfire.
- Don't return to your home until instructed accordingly.
- Don't drink water unless the authority advises to do it.
- Wear an N95 mask and take note of the damaged property
The health Impact Of Wildfires
Wildfires have health impacts, some of them are;
- Wildfire smoke sometimes contains carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and lungs damaging particles, which are dangerous to the health. The smoke could spend a long time in the atmosphere, and people may innocently inhale it.
- Air pollution produced by wildfires is a function of the amount of delicate particulate matter in the atmosphere.
- The US Environmental Protection Agency warned fine particulate pollution is unhealthy, especially if it exceeds the daily average of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.
- Also, the effects of wildfires smoke have on your health depends on how long you are exposed to the smoke. Some of the health effects of smoke are; irritated eyes, coughing, severe respiratory problems, chronic heart, and lung conditions.
- Furthermore, if you have asthma or cardiovascular ailment, you shouldn't expose yourself to wildfire smoke. Also, if aging people, pregnant women, children, and cigarette smokers inhale wildfires smoke, it's very harmful. For this reason, they should always wear an N95 mask to protect themselves.
Generally, the best way to protect yourself from wildfire smoke is by staying indoors. If you must go outside, always wear an N95 mask. But you must wear them correctly. Otherwise, it will provide little or no protection.
Does Wearing N95 Mask Protect You From Wildfires Smoke?
When you wear an N95 mask, it protects you by filtering out fine particles in smoke. But you must wear them correctly.
How To Wear N95 Mask
If you don't wear your N95 mask correctly, it will offer little or no protection. Below is a step by step procedure to wear a face mask during wildfires.
- The first step is to place the mask on your nose and under your chin. After which you place one strap below your ear and the other one above it. This will give a perfect fit on your face.
- Adjust the mask properly to prevent air from entering through the edges. Once there's leakage around the sides, unfiltered air will have access to it. And the entire purpose of wearing the mask will be defeated.
- Place the metal part of your mask tightly to your nose when applicable.
- Always follow the instructions contained in the package to check for a tight face seal.
- Let me remind you that N95 Mask doesn't work for people with beards. It will not seal properly. So, it works best for people with clean-shaven skin.
- As of today, masks aren't approved for children. So, it's advisable to always keep children indoors during wildfires. It's safer for them.
- Whenever your mask is dirty, damaged, or you find it difficult to breathe through it, throw it away.
- Don't forget that it's difficult to breathe through a mask, so try to take breaks often for fresh air.
Don’t wait for wildfires to start before looking for an N95 respirator. Try to have a spare one at home. Your health is a precious gift, guide it jealously.