AIHA Launches “Think and Act Fire Smart” Resource Center
In July 15, AIHA launched “Think and Act Fire Smart,” a one-stop information center for wildfire preparedness and recovery. The new resource center is intended to raise awareness about the hidden dangers in the cleanup process that follows a devastating wildfire, especially in urban areas.  Over the past 10 years, an average of 67,000 wildfires have occurred annually and an average of 7 million acres have burned per year, according to data from the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress. In 2018, 58,083 wildfires burned 8.8 million acres nationwide, the sixth-largest figure on record in terms of acreage burned.  While wildfires cannot be eliminated, it is imperative to take the necessary steps to avoid the potential health hazards that occur during the cleanup and recovery phase. Each year, thousands of people in multiple states are directly and indirectly impacted by wildfires, forest fires, and brush fires. Even those hundreds of miles away from a burn zone may be at risk as combustion particles are carried by winds, and equipment and materials that were in these environments are transported to other areas for service, repair, and decontamination. “It’s important to understand the health and safety hazards that wildfires create, even after the event is over,” said members of AIHA’s Incident Preparedness and Response Working Group. “The residue that’s left can be dangerous to your health. That’s why—before starting to clean up or repair—you should seek the advice of the fire department, a restoration specialist, or an industrial hygienist before returning to your property.” The AIHA Think and Act Fire Smart Resource Center provides information on hazards that may be present during and after a wildfire incident has occurred, contact information for certified professionals who can help with property evaluation, and facts and figures to help people understand the scope of the challenges related to wildfires. As part of its campaign to raise awareness about wildfire cleanup and recovery, AIHA is urging its members to write to their governors to encourage them to start or strengthen public awareness campaigns to help protect families, workers, communities, and pets during wildfire recovery efforts. Visit AIHA’s Government Relations Action Center to learn more about the letter campaign and to contact your governor today.

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