I recently visited Montana where over 86,000 acres have burned or are on fire. This year in the United States, about 7.2 million acres have been impacted by wildfires. That’s an area about five times the size of Delaware. It’s easy to see that the smoke from the fires in Montana, Canada, and surrounding states affects the air you breathe. Smoke contains fine particles that can get into your eyes and respiratory system, which can cause health problems or aggravate existing conditions.
Some people are more susceptible to smoke than others. The people at greatest risk are those with heart or lung disease; older adults; and children. If you live in an area that has a lot of smoke in the air, stay indoors and place the air conditioner on recirculate to avoid bringing the “smoke-filled” outside air inside. Click here for more tips from The American Lung Association. For an Air Quality forecast for your area check out AirNow.
In the southeast and Hawaii the weather threats are coming from hurricanes and tropical storms. We all remember ten years ago when Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc in states along the gulf coast and then spawned a tornado outbreak that caused widespread damage in several states, including Georgia. Katrina made landfall a few days after I arrived in Georgia to work for the University of Georgia. My worldly goods were in a moving van somewhere between Texas and Georgia, and I had no internet connection, so I bought a television to see what was going on. I learned quickly the importance of providing reliable and trustworthy information to those impacted by hurricanes, flooding, and tornadoes.
We all need to be thinking ahead and making plans for natural disasters. No matter where you live, the time to prepare is before a natural disaster strikes. If you have done the following three things then you are prepared.
Create a disaster emergency kit
Develop a family communication plan
Make sure someone in your household is CPR trained
If you aren’t prepared, then this is a great time to get started. You can do it as a family project. Below are some resources to help you get started creating a disaster emergency kit and family communication plan.