Last updated on October 7th, 2022 at 09:47 am
Wildfires are fires that burn out of control in a natural area, like a forest, grassland, or prairie. They often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, and can damage natural resources, destroy homes, and threaten the safety of the public and firefighters. Large, uncontained wildfire events have increased in recent years, threatening farmers and ranchers. Although there are no guarantees of safety if you live in an area threatened by a wildfire, you can take actions to protect yourself.
During wildfires, air quality becomes drastically worsened due to smoke from burning materials and chemicals. Particulate matter also known as PM2.5 associated with air pollution and wildfires can be deposited deep into the respiratory tract inhibiting lung and cardiovascular function. Visit www.AirNow.gov from the US Environmental Protection Agency to see air quality index measures by location. Learn more about respiratory health best practices from AgriSafe.
Livestock sensing wildfire danger can become irritated, aggressive, or panicky. Relocating livestock during stressful times should be carefully planned to limit injury. Deceased livestock can host and spread zoonotic diseases so follow guidelines to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Water quality can be affected due to materials and chemicals being burned. Flame retardants, pesticides, and organic material can make ground water not suitable for human or animal use.
Heat Related Illnesses
Disaster recovery is physically strenuous, especially in hot temperatures. Intense heat exposure can cause Heat Related Illnesses. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness
After a natural disaster, you’re dealing with the extra stress of current conditions, along with the daily stress of farm and ranch operations. Natural disasters such as wildfires create a tremendous amount of additional stress and anxiety. You may develop major depression, generalized anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Learn more about mental health from AgriSafe.
- Health Risks of Wildfires for Children – Acute Phase
- Wildfire Associated Health Risks Impacting Farmers and Ranchers
Facts Sheets and Statistics
- Wildfire Health Threats: Risk Factors for Farmers and Ranchers
- Protect Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke
- Using Well Water after a Fire
- Facts + Statistics: Wildfires
- Breathe Easy: Protect Yourself from Wildland Fire Smoke
- Wildfire Smoke and Your Health
|Wildfire Health Threats: Risk Factors for Farmers and Ranchers (June 17, 2021)|
Wildfires have become a persistent health threat for people working in agriculture. This webinar will focus on understanding the risks of exposure to wildfire smoke and potential strategies for responding to protect human health. Best practices for protecting worker health will be shared based on California’s requirements along with resources for talking with agricultural workers about wildfire exposure risks.
Page updated: July 2021