It’s been a very hot and dry summer in most of the United States, which sadly has meant a lot of forest fires in many regions.
What does this mean for outdoor recreation enthusiasts? Mostly it means using common sense like not starting a campfire in a dry place or not going running when there’s a fire a mile away.
With your common sense and some sound advice you many still be able to head to the hills when there’s a forest fire around.
Be smart about planning your outings, following fire rules and regulations, exercising in smoky areas and hiking post-forest fire with these fire resources for outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
InciWeb is a great place to look before embarking on an outing to see if there’s a forest fire in the area and to check for closures. InciWeb is an interagency all-risk incident information management system. The system was developed with two primary missions:
- Provide the public a single source of incident related information
- Provide a standardized reporting tool for the Public Affairs community
A number of supporting systems automate the delivery of incident information to remote sources. This ensures that the information regarding active incidents is consistent, and the delivery is timely.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation’s support center for wildland firefighting.
Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC. Decisions are made using the interagency cooperation concept because NIFC has no single director or manager.
Consult the website for the latest news about all things fire in the United States.
If you follow them on Facebook, you’ll get up-to-date info, fire (and, ladies, firefighter) images and updates and advisories.
The nation’s authority on lungs, the American Lung Association, errs on the side of caution when it comes to exercising or living around forest fires in its Forest Fires and Respiratory Health Fact Sheet, especially for those with any type of respiratory illness or children.
If you live close to or in the surrounding area, it’s recommended that you refrain from exercising outdoors, especially if you smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation. Extra precaution should be taken for children, who are more susceptible to smoke because their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) per pound of body mass than adults.” –American Lung Association
Take this advice to heed when deciding whether or not to exercise in smoke. But, probably the best thing to do is to consult your local health care practitioner or local public health office since they’ll be able to advise you on what’s actually happening in your area and with your personal health condition.
The CDC concurs with the American Lung Association and urges caution, especially for older adults, children and those with respiratory or heart diseases in its Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke Feature.
When wildfires burn in your area, they produce smoke that may reach your community. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.” –CDC
They recommend to check local air quality reports and consult health care practitioners in your area.
If you’re going to hike in a place that a forest fire has already occurred, Backpacker Magazine has some great tips to tread even more lightly on this fragile, fire-invaded area:
- Keep to trails
- Steer clear of streambeds and steep slopes in rain
- Be careful walking around burned-out stumps
- Bring water since old watering holes may dry up
- Look out for falling trees