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    Air Pollution Dog Blog

    Wildfire Risk Report Highlights U.S. Wildfire Vulnerability

    Wildfire Risk Report Highlights U.S. Wildfire Vulnerability

    Nearly 776,000 Homes at Extreme Risk of Wildfire Damage This Year

    Over the past several years, the United States has experienced record-breaking wildfires. In 2018 alone, 8,767,492 acres burned, roughly equivalent to 74 of the 75 largest cities in the United States combined. This is the sixth highest total since modern historical records began in the mid-1900s.

    There is no state that is completely free from wildfire risk, but historic wildfire data indicates that the 13 Western states are the most commonly affected and have an expectation of property losses due to wildfire.

    CoreLogic, a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, today released its 2019 Wildfire Risk Report, which finds nearly 776,000 homes with an associated reconstruction cost value of more than $221 billion at extreme risk of wildfire damage.

    California metropolitan areas comprise a significant portion of the top 15 regions with the most homes at risk, with the Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego metropolitan areas ranking as the top three high-risk areas, respectively. These regions are home to more than 42% of residences at high-to-extreme wildfire risk in the top 15 metropolitans and also claim more than 51% of the total reconstruction cost value in this group.

    Wildfire Risk Assessment for USA 2019

    “It’s no surprise that California tops the list of the most homes at high-to-extreme wildfire risk, given the state’s size and population density, as well as the popularity of residential expansion into the wildland urban interface,” said Tom Jeffery, senior hazard scientist at CoreLogic. “The high density of homes located in wildfire-susceptible areas only increases the threat of future catastrophic events and the possibility of billion-dollar losses.”

    The CoreLogic Wildfire Risk report analyzes homes currently at risk of wildfire damage in the western United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The report also provides a breakdown of the significant wildfire events of 2017 and 2018.

    The report found 2018 was another record-breaking year for the country, with 8,767,492 acres burned—a size roughly equivalent to 74 of the 75 largest cities in the United States combined. This is the sixth-highest total since modern historical records began in the mid-1900s. California, Nevada and Oregon topped the list for most acreage burned in 2018, with a combined total of 3.72 million acres burned in the three states. In California, 2017 and 2018 caused more wildfire-related property damage than the state has experienced in any two consecutive years of its history.

    USA Risk Assessment for Wildfires by State 2019

    “The past few years of wildfire activity tell us we’re not only seeing a continuation of the intense fires and associated destruction in the United States, but an escalation of these events,” said Shelly Yerkes, wildfire senior product manager at CoreLogic. “The continuing presence of the factors responsible for recent wildfires are an ominous indicator that the coming years could see more of the same record-breaking destruction.”

    For an interactive version of the 2019 Wildfire Risk Report, which includes maps, charts and images, visit this link.

    To follow CoreLogic coverage of 2019 wildfires, visit the company’s natural hazard risk information center, Hazard HQ™, at www.hazardhq.com.

    Austin Ranks In The Top Five Cities In The U.S. For Potential Wildfire Damage

    A new report from a California-based market research firm finds that Austin ranks fifth in a list of cities facing the highest reconstruction costs due to potential wildfire damage.

    Researchers with CoreLogic found that 53,984 Austin residents live within an area designated as having a high-to-extreme wildfire risk, representing the potential for roughly $16 billion in reconstruction costs.

    The four cities outpacing Austin are all in California – Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Sacramento.

    “As Austin expands outward, obviously it's growing into areas where you have a lot of brush, a lot of vegetation growth,” says CoreLogic senior hazard scientist Tom Jeffery. “If a wildfire were to occur, there’s a lot that’s going to fuel that fire and it can turn into a large fire — not only physically large, but intense.”

    According to the same report, 569,811 acres burned in 2018 in Texas – while nearly double that amount burned in California in the same year.

    Jeffery says that while residents in California may be more aware of the threat of wildfire because of the frequency of them, Texans should still consider wildfire an active threat. He cited the Bastrop County fires from 2011, which destroyed 1,600 homes and killed two people.

    “Like any hazard, if it doesn’t happen for a few years people start to not think about it as being as important,” says Jeffery.

    Earlier this week, Austin city council members approved nearly $3.5 million for wildfire mitigation in their latest budget.

    You can find your wildfire risk using this tool developed by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

    Methodology

    To determine residential exposure value, CoreLogic parcel-level data is paired with the proprietary CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Score to identify every property contained within each separate wildfire risk category. After matching each residential property to a structure valuation, the values are totaled by risk category within individual geographic areas. The final results illustrate the total number of residential properties at risk, as well as the total current reconstruction cost value of those properties.

    Armed with a full understanding of hazard down to a 30m grid cell, the probabilistic CoreLogic U.S. Wildfire Model goes further by combining comprehensive agents of damage including ignition sources, spread and suppression with structural vulnerability. Both burn and smoke damage is accounted for, and more than 3.5 million stochastic events are incorporated to simulate every damage and loss event that could possibly happen. The model even accounts for weather conditions including humidity and prevailing winds and allows for adjustments by location to account for higher- or lower-than-average risks in a given year that might be caused by drought, exceptional rainfall or recent burns. Once damage ratios are calculated, the model applies any and all insurance conditions to determine financial loss from fire and smoke.

    Mysterious Illness Killing Dogs in Norway

    Mysterious Illness Killing Dogs in Norway

    A wave of suspicious dog deaths have occurred in Norway recently. A total of 21 dogs in just the past few days have died from a mysterious illness that gives them sickness and bloody diarrhea.

    The majority of cases have been reported in and around Norway's capital Oslo, but also in Bergen and Trondheim, and the northern Nordland municipality.

    Dog deaths and illness in Norway

    The illness has affected all kinds of dogs of varying ages and it sets in quickly. Many dog owners are unable to get their infected dogs to a vet before they pass away. The dogs can seem fine in the morning and rapidly deteriorate in the afternoon.

    The country's veterinary institute says it's doing everything it can to determine the cause of the outbreak but it still doesn’t have an answer.

    Hanna Jørgensen, in charge of small animal health at the Veterinary Institute (Veterenærinstituttet), said "it is difficult because there are no obvious common features and no clear lab answers. We do not have any conclusions to give yet. But it is important to emphasize that many dogs recover from the disease."

    Dog owners are being advised to look out of unusual behavior in their dogs and to get them to a vet as soon as they see anything is wrong. Avoiding areas like parks where there are lots of other dogs is also strongly recommended.

    Wildfire and Smoke: Preparations And Evacuation Plan For Dogs

    Wildfire and Smoke: Preparations And Evacuation Plan For Dogs

    Wildfires and related smoke endanger property, people, and are beloved pets. In 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire burned hundreds of square miles, the Holy Fire caused more than 20,000 people to evacuate from their homes, and those were only two of the several wildfires that burned in the state of California, alone.

    The almost unimaginable devastation serves as a reminder that we must protect what is most precious–our lives and the lives of our loved ones, including our animal companions. If you haven’t already prepared your human family and dogs with a plan that includes what to do in the event of an evacuation, now is the time. 

    Even if you end up not needing to evacuate, it’s better to have a plan and not need it than to need a plan and not have one. Read these helpful tips for preparing for a wildfire and evacuating with your dogs.

    Emergency Alerts

    First, you need a way to stay updated on the emergencies in your area and know whether an evacuation is necessary. There are several ways to get emergency notifications, and it’s best to have multiple ways to receive communications in case one method fails.

    Staying alert helps you prepare your household and your pets if the worst happens. Follow these tips:

    • Understand the risks for where you live. The USDA Forest Service created a wildfire hazard potential (WHP) map of the U.S. that indicates how likely it is for a wildfire to affect you. Risks change depending on precipitation and other factors, but checking this map may be a good first step in preparing yourself.
    • Download the FEMA mobile app to your smart phone. This app sends you notifications about natural disasters from the National Weather Service, gives you preparedness tips, and helps locate shelters among other things. Some reviewers claim the app sends too many notifications, but the app gets updates frequently to address user issues, and it’s better to be too informed than not informed at all.
    • The ASPCA mobile app can also help you prepare for a disaster, manage your pet’s health records, and provide you with resources to help you find a lost pet should you get separated.
    • Have a hand crank or solar-powered radio, and set the frequency to a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) station. It will help you stay informed in the event that your phone dies or other communications go out, and these stations broadcast 24/7.

    Preparing for evacuating your family and dogs

    Places Where You Can Go

    If an evacuation occurs, you’ll need a safe place to go that will allow your whole family and pets to stay. Then, make sure your family knows where to go in case you are separated or unable to reunite before evacuating.

    There are several options that might work for your individual situation, and some options might be ruled out if they are also located in a place affected by wildfires. However, note that many evacuation centers do not accept pets due to health and safety regulations, so do not rely on them as an option unless they specifically tell you pets are allowed.

    Additionally, plan for a backup in case your first emergency meetup location isn’t usable. Consider the following options:

      • The best option is to have a friend or family member who can take you in for a while. Try to pick someone who lives far enough away that you can escape danger. Also, think of several different family members or friends in case your top choice is dealing with an emergency, too.
      • Create a list of hotels and motels that allow pets. Make sure that you find a few options, as some locations may also be in the path of a wildfire. Several websites let you search specifically for lodgings that allow pets, including bringfido.com, expedia.com, and hotels.petswelcome.com.
      • If you must go to a place with your family that does not allow pets, like an emergency evacuation center, look for a pet sitter, kennel, vet’s office, or animal shelter, as sometimes these places make special arrangements for pets in cases of emergencies and natural disasters. Call ahead.

    Prepare Your Dog for Wildfire Evacuation

    Make Plans For Your Dogs

    Your pets can’t possibly know how to prepare themselves for an evacuation, so it’s your job to make preparations for them. Start taking these steps well in advance of an emergency.

    Some of them you can even do right now.

    • If you live in an area where wildfires are a possible threat, keep your pets inside whenever it’s not necessary for them to be outdoors, and have them on leash and supervised when they are outside. Animals can bolt and hide when they are afraid, and that can make them difficult to find when a few moments can make the difference between getting out and getting hurt. You need to have a way to keep them under control and easy to reach. Frightened pets can hop fences, chew through leashes, and ignore learned commands. Keep them safe.
    • Update your pet’s microchip and collar identification. Make sure the contact information is accurate, and have an emergency contact number listed in addition to your own, just in case you can’t get to your phone. If your pet gets lost, this is one of your best chances of being reunited with them.
    • Get a fire alert sticker for your front door. This sticker should let firefighters know how many pets are in your home. If you can’t get to your pet before being evacuated, or if you can’t find them and need to escape right away, the sticker will help emergency responders save your animals.
    • Get your neighbors’ contact information. If you can’t make it home, designate one of your neighbors as a person you can call to pick up your pets and take them to safety if the worst should happen. Discuss this with them before an emergency occurs. Find a few backup neighbors in case any of them aren’t home.

    Dog Emergency Kit with Air Pollution Dog Filter Mask

    Pack Your Emergency Kit Ahead of Time

    You’ll need several supplies for your pets to take care of them while you’re away from home. Keep these supplies together in a place where you can grab them and go, if necessary. Also, pack an emergency kit for humans with supplies for yourself and your human family members.

    Your pet emergency kit should be easy to pack, but it should also contain all of the essentials you’ll need for a few days. Here are some of the things you should pack:

    • A pet first-aid kit. You should ask your veterinarian for a checklist of things to pack in a first-aid kit for your individual pets. Click here for more info on what should be included in a first-aid kit for pets.
    • The ASPCA recommends you pack three to seven days worth of food for each pet.
    • Medical records and recent photos for each pet. You can store these on a flash drive if it is easier.
    • A week’s worth of any medication your pets might need.
    • Paper towels, litter boxes, poop bags, garbage bags, or other supplies to clean up after your pets.
    • Disinfectant or dish soap.
    • Seven days worth of water for each person and pet (replace every two months it goes unused)
    • Air pollution mask for adults, children, and an air filter for mask for the dog.
    • Crates, carriers, and bedding.
    • Extra supplies like leashes, toys, harnesses, collars, food and water bowls, etc.

    Evacuating Dogs from Wildfire Smoke

    Evacuating With Your Dog

    If you are told to evacuate, take your pets with you and leave immediately, even if you do not see signs of immediate danger. Furthermore, do not wait for the evacuation to become mandatory. Many people who are forced to evacuate are instructed to leave pets behind. Don’t let that become your only option.

    Follow the instructions of emergency service workers and get your family and pets to safety. Here are a few tips to follow:

    • If you need to evacuate quickly, leave non-essential material possessions behind. No object is worth risking your life or the lives of your pets and family.
    • Do not allow your pets to roam or get loose. Keep them in carriers or on-leash at all times. They will be in a stressful situation and potentially in unfamiliar places, which may frighten them enough to run away.
    • Stick to your pets’ usual feeding and medication schedules as much as possible.
    • Make sure your pets are wearing identification at all times.
    • Remain calm and don’t take chances. Confirm that everyone in your party knows where you are going and who to contact if you get separated, and there should be no confusion about who is responsible for caring for pets at any moment. Don’t assume someone else in the family is paying attention to your pets at all times. Take shifts or have a designated caretaker.
    • Stay informed. Listen to emergency stations and notifications. Do not return home until you receive the all-clear.

    What other tips do you recommend for dog owners who need to evacuate due to a wildfire? Also, what preparations have you made to evacuate if you need to?

    My Dog Story: Protecting My Rescue Dogs from Smoke

    My Dog Story: Protecting My Rescue Dogs from Smoke

    Hello Good Air Team,

    During the fires in Sonoma County the air quality at our home in Dillon Beach was bad, but not nearly as bad as when the Camp Fire in Butte County happened. The bad air lasted for three weeks here in 2018 and was in the “maroon” the entire time. Super harmful air quality. By then, after going through the Sonoma County fires, we were aware of the harm this bad air was doing to our lungs. And I knew if it was doing damage to my lungs, it was doing damage to my dogs lungs. 

    During the Sonoma county fires I went online to search for masks for my dogs and I found the information that you were working on the masks. I so wish I’d had them last year during the Camp Fires.

    Rescue Dogs in California Wildfire Smoke get K9 Mask Protection
    Luckily, I had done scent work training with both my dogs. Not for any kind of competition or for work, but just to have fun with my dogs and give them something to do on a rainy day.  What a wonderful tool to have last year during the Camp fires. Both my dogs were completely exhausted morning and night with 15 minutes of scent work inside the house. When I needed to take them outside to potty it was a very quick in and out, if at all possible, to minimize their exposure to the bad air. Of course inside, I had multiple air purifiers running.

    Protecting Dogs from California Wildfire Smoke
    This year, we’re ready. We’ve got our new masks for both dogs. Both rescues, Lucca is a 14 pound Pomeranian-Shih Tzu-American Eskimo-Pekingese mix, and Trevi at 26 pounds is a German shepherd-Chihuahua-Cattle dog- Poodle-Pomeranian mix, truly a Heinz 57. Lucca wears a small size, and Trevi a medium. 

    Dog Wears Air Filter Mask to Protect from Smoke
    Thanks for all your hard work in developing these masks. I’d love to think we’ll never need them, but the reality of today’s environmental issues, I will be ready for my girls!  

    -- Barbara

    California is Not Burning Yet, And This is Good News!

    California is Not Burning Yet, And This is Good News!

    The good news today is California is not burning, yet. At least not as much as it has in recent years. Acreage burned through Sunday is down 90% compared to the average over the past five years and down 95% from last year, according to statistics from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    The stats are good news for a state that has seen terrifyingly destructive and deadly blazes the past two years, but the worst of those fires occurred in the fall.

    California Drought Meter 2019

    The precipitous drop could be due to the amount of precipitation the state received during a winter of near-record snowfall and cooler-than-average temperatures — so far.

    Scott McLean, a spokesman for CalFire, said the state hasn’t dried out as quickly this year and the temperatures haven’t been as consistently hot. Hot spells have been followed by cooler weather and winds haven’t been strong.

    “It’s a roller coaster with temperatures this year,” McLean said. “There have been very little winds so far. We’re crossing all fingers and appendages.”

    The most current U.S. Drought Monitor map released last week shows only a tiny portion of California listed as abnormally dry. A year ago, almost the entire state was listed in a range from abnormally dry to extreme drought.

    Even after another very wet year in 2017 when Gov. Jerry Brown declared the end to a years-long drought, hot weather quickly sapped vegetation of moisture and nearly 4,000 fires had already burned more than 350 square miles (906 square kilometers) at this time of year. In October 2017, fast-moving, wind-driven blazes in Northern California killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

    California Wildfires Are Not Burning in 2019, Yet

    Last year began with less rainfall and a smaller snowpack and the state dried out even faster with more dire the consequences. It was the worst fire year in state history in both acreage and deaths with the Camp Fire in November wiping out the town of Paradise, destroying nearly 15,000 homes and killing 86 people. At the same time, a Southern California wildfire burned across the Santa Monica Mountains and destroyed more than 1,500 structures.

    CalFire has fought fires on 38 square miles (98 square kilometers) this year, down from an average of 416 square miles (1,077 square kilometers) from 2014-18.

    Through the same date last year, a total of nearly 4,000 fires had burned more than 970 square miles (2,512 square kilometers). The number of fires this year, about 3,400, is only down about 15% from last year, meaning the fires are much smaller.

    Typically, 95% of the fires CalFire fights are smaller than 10 acres and “boy are we living up to that,” McLean said. The state’s figures don’t compare data on fires on all federal lands, which account for about 45 percent of the state’s acreage.

    Fires on U.S. Forest Service land this year, however, have also declined. To date, only 41 square miles have burned in national forests, compared to 350 square miles at this time last year, according to fire officials.

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