What Injuries Are Commonly Caused by Wildfires?

Wildfires not only cause devastation to forests and grasslands but also leave people and animals in their vicinity with significant injuries and illnesses. Oregon’s Department of Emergency Management maintains its Wildfire Response and Recovery website, which provides regular updates on the current fire situation. By staying updated, you can take action to avoid the damaging health effects of these disasters.

Fire and Smoke Lead to Many Severe Injuries

Being caught by a wildfire or trying to evacuate too late can expose you to a number of dangers, such as flames, falling debris, fire-retardant chemicals, and collapsing buildings. Common conditions include:

  • Burns
  • Broken bones from falling
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Car accidents while evacuating
  • Chemical burns
  • Smoke inhalation that aggravates other respiratory illnesses
  • High-stress response from panic and fear, leading to exhaustion

With the unpredictable nature of wildfires, even being miles away is no guarantee of safety. You could be stranded in traffic and unable to escape as the fire approaches. 

Smoke Exposure Can Have Long-Term Health Effects

The smoke from a wildfire affects people in the immediate area, but it can also cause changes in the weather and climate for years afterward. Similar to the health effects of long-term pollution in large cities, accumulated smoke lingers and worsens existing illnesses, such as asthma and emphysema. 

Young children, pregnant people, and older individuals are most at risk from smoke inhalation. They can develop bronchitis, have reduced lung function, and experience more heart issues after smoke exposure for long periods or in concentrated areas. Other health effects include damage to the eyes, nasal passages, and throat.

Smoke exposure can also cause overall health issues, particularly for those who are already ill. Particulate matter can be inhaled and settle in your lungs, leading to respiratory problems later in life. 

Take Action to Reduce Your Risk of Wildfire-Related Injuries

To minimize your chances of illness or injury during a wildfire, it’s important that you be prepared well ahead of time. Stay informed of wildfire activity in your area, have a plan for evacuating or defending your home, and assemble a go-kit that includes the essentials. Without a reliable plan and supplies, your chances of being hurt increase dramatically.

If wildfires are common near you, there are critical steps you can take to reduce the effects of these natural disasters, including:

  • Educate yourself on how to avoid smoke exposure. 
  • Create a plan for protecting your property and practice it. 
  • Learn evacuation routes for your area and review them with your family members.
  • Build an emergency supplies kit with medicines, water, food, and other necessary items. 

To ensure you protect your health and your valuables, consider the most critical items in your preparations: people and pets, prescriptions, phones, ATM and credit cards, documents, and pictures. Photos of your property, vehicles, heirlooms, and other important items can assist you with insurance negotiations for their replacement.  

Learn More About What to Do After a Wildfire Injury

If you have been hurt by a wildfire caused by someone’s negligence, you may have grounds for legal action. At Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC, our Oregon wildfire lawyer handles insurance claims and lawsuits for those who have suffered harm after a natural disaster. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.