The summer season may feel like it’s flying by, but many dog days lay ahead in the month of August. Normally referred to as the hottest (and most humid) month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, August may be best for beach weather, but it also poses a huge threat to our homes, environment and infrastructure. After all, this final stretch of summer is perpetuating droughts in the West and facilitating severe weather in middle and eastern America, increasing the chances of national disaster and putting government officials on high alert.
According to information posted by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of July 27 the United States has seen 22 “large fires” that have burned nearly 850,000 acres in four western states and Alaska in 2015. Worse, these fires aren’t just consuming acres of forests and destroying habitats for wild life; they are also spreading and rapidly decreasing the air quality in communities, forcing families out of their homes with the fear of their livelihoods also being consumed by flames.
The hot summer days have also lead to a drought of historic proportions in the state of California. According to the U.S. drought monitor, the overwhelming majority of the state finds itself facing a level D3 or D4 drought, with a D4 drought being the highest level and described as an “exceptional drought.” In fact, the U.S. Drought monitor labels 71 percent of the state at D3 and 46 percent at D4. These areas are particularly at high risk of setting the scene of the next big forest fire.
If we move our focus across the country, we may see a dramatic decrease in the risk of forest fires, but what we find in their place is equally as worrisome. The hot summer months are a breeding ground for severe weather such as tornadoes, hail storms, heavy winds and violent thunderstorms. In the past two months alone (June and July), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric’s (NOAA) National Weather Service has documented a combined 298 tornadoes, largely falling in middle and eastern America. Furthermore, those 298 tornadoes are just a portion of more than 8,400 severe weather events in the same period of time.
Similarly, these patterns of severe weather in the middle and eastern regions of this country, like the droughts and fires of the west, pose a real and serious threat to the safety and livelihood of families throughout these areas. Furthermore, the month of August will put an increased stress on local government and real estate developers who are tasked with protecting their citizens and future tenants respectively.
To better protect their communities, government officials and developers should consider these two courses of action:
- Double check fire systems: Severe weather, forest fires and droughts may manifest as different types of natural disasters but they can all end in fire. Just consider a downed power line due to a hail storm, and one can quickly gather how the former can cause a fire event. With that in mind, it is important that all local municipalities and developers double check to ensure all fire systems are up-to-date, functioning properly and are in line with new NFPA standards. Assuring your fire systems function properly and within regulations can save valuable time during a fire event, which will ultimately save lives.
- Upgrade to ECS: Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) are quickly becoming a standard in public facilities such as airports and government buildings. The reason for this is simple; unlike a fire system, an ECS allows for the communication of almost any emergency event. An ECS can be used to notify local communities of severe weather that could potentially turn catastrophic. For instance, it can alert building tenants that a strong wind has damaged their natural gas supply, causing a carbon monoxide leak in the building. Furthermore, when used by local municipalities an ECS can help communicate the decrease in air quality caused by a forest fire and the need for an evacuation due to an emergency such as encroaching flames, tornadoes or worse.
To learn more about the importance of emergency communications, check out our related post here.