Last year, wildfires ravaged the state of Oregon, as well as much of the west coast thanks to an unseasonably dry winter and hot summer igniting vegetation. This year appears to be on track for a similar outbreak, thanks to record-breaking heat and rainfall numbers that continue to hover below average for much of the Portland area. A wildfire can get out of control in a matter of minutes, and it can be days or even weeks before the largest fires can be fully contained and extinguished.
Fires cause immense devastation, and not just from the fire itself. Smoke can travel across the state, causing poor quality air and putting homes and businesses at risk. Sparks and small flares can cause new fires to ignite, resulting in a wide expanse of blazes that can be difficult to handle.
All of this means preparation is vital, particularly as we start to approach the peak of fire season. If you live in the Portland or Bend area, whether you own a home or rent an apartment, it’s important to know what resources are available so you can make a plan and take action in the event you are called on to evacuate. In an effort to help our communities, we have put together a list of these resources that you can utilize to stay aware and be prepared for wildfire season.
Protect Your Indoor Air Quality
Even if you aren’t in danger of a fire, the thousands of tons of billowing smoke and ash can cripple air quality for hundreds of miles around. This can also greatly impact your indoor air, even if you keep your doors and windows shut tight during the fire. Poor quality air can cause everything from allergy symptoms to respiratory problems and even trigger asthma attacks, which can be a medical emergency. Therefore, it’s critical to protect your indoor air quality however possible. Here are a few ways you can do that.
- AirNow: This site gives real-time air quality reporting, including information regarding the potentially dangerous levels of smoke in the air. They also provide recommendations for vulnerable segments of the population. https://www.airnow.gov/
- Keep pollution out: Air pollution is a serious problem during wildfires. Smoke particles, floating ash, and so many other issues are all rampant, and can quickly pollute the air in your home. Keep your doors and windows closed tight to minimize air transfer between your home and the outdoor air.
- Invest in an air purifier: Air purifiers are specialized pieces of machinery that eliminate air impurities both large and small. During wildfire seasons, an air purifier can remove even the smallest specks of ash as well as smoke particles and other airborne biological organisms that could cause health issues. If you’re interested in learning more about them, Pyramid offers a number of options that we can match to your home for optimal results, including the Carrier Air Purifier.
- Check your air filter: Air filters are a critical part of every heating and cooling system. The end of summer is typically one of the hottest parts of the year, and that means wildfires can rage while outdoor temperatures are still well up at their highest point. When you run your air conditioner, all of the air pulled through the system is strained through an air filter, and air filters fill up far faster when air is full of way more debris (such as during a wildfire). We recommend checking your air filter every week if a serious wildfire is burning and replace it when it begins to look gray and dusty. A dirty air filter will not only fail to protect your home and reduce your air quality, but could result in more expensive energy bills and even cause your air conditioner to fail.
Know Where to Go
In the event you are called on to evacuate your home, part of having a plan is knowing where to go. While evacuation centers are typically set up on the fly during fires, have a general idea of safe areas that could be used to provide shelter. Know where things like recreation centers, meeting halls, parks, and other public facilities might be, as they are often used as meeting points for those who are forced out of their homes to evacuate.
Finally, make sure you have an emergency box packed and ready to go in the event you are called on to evacuate and have very little time to grab your things. An emergency box should have at least one change of clothes for every person in your home, a few emergency food rations for all family members (including furry, four-legged ones), flashlights, batteries, a few water bottles, an emergency radio, and even a couple of spare cell phone chargers so you can stay in contact and communication with those around you.Stay Safe, Stay Alert, and Be Kind – Remember, we are all in this together! #PyramidProud Give us a call today at (503) 783-8488 if you need an air conditioning repair to continue staying cool.