Why Wildfires Are on the Rise and What You Can Do

The front part of a home with a wildfire raging in the background.

Wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems, but recent years have seen a significant increase in their frequency, intensity, and destructive power. So if you’ve been noticing an uptick in this natural disaster, your perception is correct. Though this might be scary to think about, you don’t have to sit around unprepared. Below, we discuss the dangers of wildfires, why they are on the rise, and what you can do to protect your family.

The Dangers of Wildfires

Wildfires pose a myriad of dangers, not only to the immediate natural environment but also to the communities that reside in their vicinity. They can rapidly consume vast areas of forest, destroy homes, and take lives. The smoke from these fires can also travel hundreds of miles, affecting air quality and potentially causing health issues for people even in distant areas. Additionally, the loss of vegetation can lead to further environmental damage, such as erosion and habitat destruction, which can take years to recover. Recognizing the severity of these dangers is key to understanding the importance of being prepared and informed.

Contributing Factors to the Rise of Wildfires

Now to address the main question at hand: why are wildfires becoming more common? Climate change is a significant driver, leading to hotter, drier conditions that are more conducive to fires. Human activities, including land development, improper disposal of waste, and accidental ignitions, add to the natural occurrences that can start a wildfire, such as lightning strikes. Additionally, changes in land management practices and the buildup of unmanaged vegetation can fuel fires, making them more intense and harder to control.

What You Can Do

Though there’s not much you can do to prevent wildfires from occurring (beyond living sustainably and practicing responsible land use), you can protect your home from damage. Most importantly, don’t start fires on your property in high-risk, dry seasons. Next, create defensible space around your home by clearing away dry vegetation. Educating your family about the dangers of wildfires and how to respond in case of an emergency can also make a significant difference. Finally, make your home safer by coating building materials in intumescent paint and having air purifiers in important rooms to control air quality.

Understanding why wildfires are on the rise and what you can do about them is critical for families everywhere, including in Pittsburgh. By staying informed, prepared, and proactive, you can better protect your family from the threat of wildfires.

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