Wildfires in California and across the United States are becoming more frequent and more severe every year. With these wildfires comes a wide range of impacts affecting communities and ecosystems around the country.
While wildfires are a necessary and natural phenomenon that helps control and maintain ecosystems, they can also be very devastating as they burn hundreds of thousands of acres, destroy buildings and homes, and cause a number of injuries and fatalities. To better understand how wildfires affect the world around us, let’s take a closer look at the benefits and consequences of wildfires.
Protect your home from wildfire by installing a Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system. For more information, contact us today for a free consultation.
What Causes Wildfires?
While wildfires are often a naturally occurring event, they are more frequently caused by human activities. Though natural wildfires are often necessary and beneficial for local ecosystems, man-made fires wreak havoc on both natural and residential areas throughout the United States.
Common causes of wildfires include:
- Downed power lines
- Discarded cigarettes
- Campfires and bonfires
- Electrical fires
- And more
Fires created by humans tend to occur closer to inhabited areas, making them a more immediate threat to humans than wildfires resulting from natural causes.
Ecological Benefits of Wildfires
While wildfires cause significant destruction and come with a variety of negative impacts, they do offer some benefits to local ecosystems. For this reason, prescribed burns are used in certain areas to maintain natural ecological progression.
Wildfires can promote biological diversity, help release nutrients into the soil, reduce debris buildup, prevent harmful insect infestations, and control diseases that harm certain types of trees and plants. Certain types of plants also rely on natural burning to spread seeds and continue to survive.
By keeping debris buildup under control and burning underbrush, natural wildfires can also help mitigate the impact of future wildfires by making it more difficult for them to spread.
Negative Impacts of Wildfires
Wildfires cause a variety of negative consequences that severely impact residential and natural areas. Beyond common measures of impact, such as land destruction, wildfires also contribute to poor air quality, climate change, and more:
Destruction of Land & Structures
Every year, wildfires destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of land. While burning vegetation can be beneficial to a certain extent, excess burning harms the ecosystems that natural wildfires may typically benefit. In California alone, the annual rate of acres burned from 2009 to 2018 was 708,000 acres.
Moreover, wildfires that spread into residential areas pose a serious threat to local infrastructures. Wildfires often cause significant monetary damage due to the number of local structures and homes that they destroy. Los Angeles County, for example, has suffered an estimated $0.94 billion in structure losses.
Major fires also pose a threat to the safety of residents living in fire-prone areas. While civilian deaths due to wildfires have historically remained fairly low, they have been increasing in recent years. From 2000 to 2017, California saw 84 civilian deaths due to local wildfires.
Wildfires contribute to poor air quality that can impact the health of local residents—particularly those with preexisting conditions, like asthma.
Fires emit significant amounts of semi-volatile and volatile nitrogen oxides and organic materials that may cause respiratory issues to those that are exposed. By emitting these pollutants, wildfires can also impact residents in faraway areas as low-quality air moves to other regions.
Contributions to Climate Change
Climate change continues to create more ideal conditions for wildfires to spread and cause destruction around the country. In turn, these major wildfires contribute to climate change.
As wildfires burn through natural areas, they release significant amounts of carbon dioxide, brown carbon, black carbon, and other pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants have a direct negative impact on regional and global climate change. This climate change has contributed to a longer fire season in warm, dry areas like California.
The World Health Organization acknowledges several ways in which wildfires can impact the health of residents exposed to these disasters, including:
- Lung, throat, eyes, and nose irritation
- Lung diseases like pulmonary inflammation and bronchitis
- Worsening of existing cardiovascular disease
Mercury released by wildfires may also contribute to speech impairment, hearing impairment, vision problems, and muscle weakness.
Protecting Yourself Against Wildfire Damage
Wildfires present several risks to residents in California and other fire-prone states, making it important for homeowners to be proactive in protecting their homes, family, and themselves from damage caused by these disasters.
Proactive measures to protect your home from wildfire may include:
- Installing a roof sprinkler system to proactively hydrate and defend your home against ignition.
- Home Ignition Zone 0 and Zone 1. Manage surrounding landscape, and remove flammable materials within Home Ignition Zone 0 (0′ to 5′ from Home) and Home Ignition Zone 1 (5′ to 30′ from Home).
- Using fire-resistant building materials to make your home less vulnerable to high heat and ignition by drifting embers.
Anyone living in an area that is likely to be impacted by wildfires should also be sure to prepare an evacuation checklist to ensure they have a plan in place in case they need to evacuate.
Protect Your Home Today
The Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system can protect your home from wildfire with:
- Remote activation for 24/7 protection from anywhere
- Built-in battery backup and satellite communication
- Environmentally friendly, biodegradable Class A foam
- Municipal, well, pool, and emergency water tank supply options
- Wildfire tracking and remote system activation using the Frontline app
For more information on how Frontline Wildfire Defense can help safeguard your home, contact us today for a free consultation.