Wildfire smoke comes every year, do Washingtonians even care?

Sep 14, 2022, 3:53 PM
(Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)

Smoke officially reached the Seattle area this past weekend, and with it came some of the worst air quality in the world according to IQAir’s Air Quality Index (AQI), but for Seattlities, the reality of hazy skies and blazes nearby haven’t quite hit.

In a new Pemco Mutual Insurance NW poll, 74% of responders agree that the threat of wildfires has increased dramatically over the past two years; however, only one in three households admits to doing anything in preparation for wildfire season.

Pemco Spokesperson Allison Leep says, “with wildfires becoming such a common yearly occurrence, 63% of respondents are in agreement that their local air quality worsens during wildfire season.” Yet, with air quality worsening, only about 38% claim to regularly check the index before making their daily plans. The Pemco poll revealed that homeowners do take action to protect themselves once the fire is in their yards.

Bolt Creek Fire increases in size, but perimeter remains the same

In the past two years, Washington has seen wildfire season start as early as March, “because we are warmer and dryer,” Leep tells us.

“The data shows that we understand there’s a danger of wildfires, but that danger is seen as a ‘not my problem’ kind of topic, especially in cities like Seattle,” Leep said.

To prepare for Wildfires, Pemco reminds people to:

  1. Think Lean: Clear away underbrush, grass, and clear off your roof of moss.
  2. Think Clean: Take inventory of your trees. Make sure branches are 15 feet away from your house and 15 feet off the ground
  3. Think Green: Is referring to your lawn. Keep it well-watered and green.

One of the ways to ensure better air quality during wildfire months is to keep windows and doors closed. And if you have to walk outside, consider wearing an N95 mask.

Washingtonians are getting wise to the issue though, with 82% of respondents saying they think they would be affected to some degree by future wildfires, compared to only 40% when asked the same thing in 2015.

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Wildfire smoke comes every year, do Washingtonians even care?