July marks the start of wildfire season in Washington and across many places in the Pacific Northwest. Wildfires have always occurred in nature and are even used in land management to remove brush to make way for healthier vegetation. Now, Washington and many other states are experiencing unprecedented wildfires. This is mostly due to hotter and drier conditions caused by Climate Change.
The smoke from wildfires can be just as devastating as the flames. Smoke can travel much farther than wildfire due in part to weather conditions. Last September, the smoke was so bad in Washington that it was unsafe to go outside in many places. The Washington State Department of Ecology is using technology to create a new online mapping tool that can track and predict where wildfire smoke will be so citizens can prepare and avoid getting sick.
Technology has been crucial to map, predict, and create new inventions to help fight these fires. There are many STEM careers that help prevent, maintain, and fight wildfires. Civil engineers help rebuild structures after fire damage, create new structures that are more heat resistant. Meteorlogist monitor weather systems that could lead to a wildfire and track a wildfire’s movement in an area.
You can do your part to help prevent wildfires and be prepared incase of an emergency! Make sure you and your loved ones have an evacuation plan in case of a fire near your home, always use extreme caution when using fire for any activity such as grilling or camping.