NCDMPH Wildfires

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Picture of wildfire Every year, nwildfires threaten ecosystems all over the world, resulting in an increase in human health risk. Given the widespread nature of these events it is important for health professionals to learn about the health implications of wildfires. Contribute to "a nation of resilient communities " by educating yourself and others on disaster health topics related to wildfires. NCDMPH has gathered resources for health professionals for all wildfire related events. By providing these resources, the National Center aims to foster resilience through learning. The organization of this content is intended to facilitate self-directed learning as well as provide materials for educators. This is an initial effort and we will continue to add to these resources. 

Wildfire Resources


Preparedness & Mitigation

-- Preparedness and Mitigation --

Wildfire - Are you Prepared? FEMA

Fire Safe Seniors Toolkit. CDC, US Fire Administration

Wildfire Safety Outreach Materials. US Fire Administration

Summertime Burn Safety. US Fire Administration

Fire Adapted Communities. Fire Adapted Communities Coalition

Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke. CDC

Your Role in Fire-Adapted Communities: PDF How the fire service, local officials, and the public can work together. U.S. Fire Administration.

Wildfire Emergency Response Plan. PDF  Arizona Department of Health Services

Flood after Fire Risk. PDF

Blake SC, Howard DH, Eiring H, Tarde S. San Diego's area coordinator system: a disaster preparedness model for US Nursing homes. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2012 Dec;6(4):424-7. doi: 10.1001/dmp.2012.65

Health Impacts of Wildfires

-- Health Impacts of Wildfires --

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Wildfire-Related Deaths --- Texas. CDC

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Monitoring Health Effects of Wildfires Using the BioSense System --- San Diego County, California. CDC

After the Fire: Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being. CDC

Kochi I, Loomis J, Champ P, Donovan G. Health and Economic Impact of Wildfires: Literature Review. PDF 2008

Finlay SE, Moffat A, Gazzard R, Baker D, Murray V. Health Impacts of Wildfires. PLoS Curr. 2012 Nov 2;4:e4f959951cce2c. doi: 10.1371/4f959951cce2c

Health Risks of Wildfires for Children - Acute Phase. PDF  American Academy of Pediatrics

Environmental Health Impacts

-- Environmental Health Impacts --

Wildfire Research Confirms Health Hazards of Peat Fire Smoke. Environmental Protection Agency

Fields and Forests in Flames: Vegetation Smoke and Human Health. National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences. Environmental Health Perspectives

Fields and Forests in Flames: Lead and Mercury Emissions from Wildfire Pyrogenic Activity. National Institutes of Environmental Health. Environmental Health Perspectives

Smoke from Agricultural and Forest Fires. AirNow Web Site

Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials. PDF  Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)

Psychosocial Impact

-- Psychosocial --

Children's Psychosocial Needs in Disasters. NCDMPH.

Recovering from the Wildfires. American Psychological Association

Marshall GN, Schell TL, Elliott MN, Rayburn NR, Jaycox LH. Psychiatric disorders among adults seeking emergency disaster assistance after a wildland-urban interface fire. Psychiatr Serv. 2007 Apr;58(4):509-14

Wasiak J, Mahar P, Lee S, Paul E, Spinks A, Pfitzer B, Cleland H, Gabbe B. 12-Month generic health status and psychological distress outcomes following an Australian natural disaster experience. Injury. 2012 Sep 25. doi:pii: S0020-1383(12)00371-3. 10.1016/j.injury.2012.08.060

Papanikolaou V, Adamis D, Mellon RC, Prodromitis G. Psychological distress following wildfires disaster in a rural part of Greece. Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2011;13(1):11-26

SAMHSA. Post-Disaster Retraumatization: Risk and Protective Factors.  YouTube 

Health Systems Impacts

-- Health Systems Impacts --

Dohrenwend PB, Le MV, Bush JA, Thomas CF. The impact on emergency department visits for respiratory illness during the southern California wildfires. West J Emerg Med. 2013 Mar;14(2):79-84. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2012.10.6917

Schranz CI, Castillo EM, Vilke GM. The 2007 San Diego Wildfire impact on the Emergency Department of the University of California, San Diego Hospital System. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2010 Sep-Oct;25(5):472-6

Hoyt KS, Gerhart AE. The San Diego County wildfires: perspectives of healthcare providers. Disaster Manag Response. 2004 Apr-Jun;2(2):46-52

Richardson DB, Kumar S. Emergency response to the Canberra bushfires. Med J Aust. 2004 Jul 5;181(1):40-2

Evacuation & Sheltering

Learning Objectives & Activities-Wildfires

Wildfires - Ideas for Educators of Health Professionals

Below are ideas for educators who are teaching health professionals and may wish to develop learning content or activities related to health impacts of wildfires. These ideas should be customized based on the learners, their needs, scope of practice, and the educational context.

Options for Learning Objectives:

At the end of the learning activity, the learner will be able to:

  1. Describe how wildfires impact human health, especially in health systems, clinical, behavioral, and public health dimensions, including evacuation and population displacement effects.

  2. State ways in which health professionals can contribute to preparedness for, response to, and recovery from wildfires given their scope of practice.

  3. Critically analyze the multiple role-based expectations of health professionals in wildfire disasters. Major role categories include:

    • individual

    • family (significant others)

    • organization

    • profession

    • community

  4. List environmental health risks associated with wildfires.

Options for Learning Activities:

  1. Walk through the resources [link to Resilience Through Learning page with resources] online during class and discuss their applicability and utility for the learner.

  2. Lead a class discussion about the health and systems impacts of wildfires. Possible discussion questions are:

    • Describe the top 3 causes of illness and injury associated with wildfires.

    • What are the public health implications of wildfires?

    • Are there unique behavioral health considerations for wildfire disasters?

    • How have population displacements associated with wildfires affected the health of the evacuees and what are the health system challenges in supporting these populations?

  3. Ask learners to respond to the following question, either verbally or in writing: How can you as a health professional, within your scope of practice, contribute to the preparedness for, response to, and recovery from a wildfire?

  4. In the context of a wildfire disaster, consider the following:

    • What do you expect of yourself?

    • What does your family (significant others) expect of you?

    • What does your organization expect of you?

    • What does your profession expect of you?

    • What does the community expect of you?

  5. Invite learners to work in small groups to draft a public service announcement for your county on actions citizens should take to reduce injury and death from wildfires.

  6. Invite a member of another response professional group to discuss interprofessional coordination and collaboration necessary in response to a wildfire. Discuss barriers to such interprofessional coordination and collaboration.

  7. Divide the class into groups. Ask group members to list 3 or more actions they would recommend being taken to address the environmental health impacts of wildfires and share these with the full group.

  8. As a class, discuss how different organizations would work together to address health implications if a wildfire were threatening your community. Discuss how the professions and organizations represented by learners in the class would contribute.