Disasters and Public Health, Second Edition - Chapter 19: Wildfires

Elsevier, Disasters and Public Health, Second Edition, 2016.
Clements, B., Casani, J.

This chapter explains the factors contributing to wildfire morbidity and mortality. As human habitation expands further into wildland areas, it increases the number of homes and individuals at risk. In addition to direct risks of burns and traumatic injuries, wildfire smoke can pose health risks over vast areas. Vulnerable populations with increased health risks from wildfire smoke include the very young, elderly, and those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses. There are a number of mitigation measures that may reduce the risk of wildfire injury. These measures range from simple lawn maintenance and watering to selection of less-flammable building materials and plants used for landscaping. Wildfire public notification and evacuation are essential to risk reduction. Rapid evacuation also results in acute healthcare needs such as oxygen tanks or concentrators, routine medications for diabetes and hypertension, devices for insulin delivery, and nebulizers. Local planning must address strategies to meet these critical materials.