How the Wildfires Affect Us – And What We Can Do


This week has been heartbreaking as well as hard on the body and soul.  As the fires burn five hours away, we have the ongoing reminder of the devastation being wrought with each breath we take.  I am reminded of our families decision to leave our beloved Hong Kong 15 years ago because of the health hazards of being outdoors.  (Not the place we wanted to raise children…)

However, we do have the abilities to take action in the face of this situation, and I always feel better after I have done something, or some things, positive.  So read on.

Keep Informed

I’m not a big news watcher

but have curated an efficient set of alerts to keep me up to date on things I care about.  Many people are now keenly attuned to the air quality to help them gauge their level of outdoor activity, and I have recently started a regular check of the KPCC Fire Tracker.  And to further aid my peace of mind, I have started pulled together a folder with key documents, as well as scanning them to a secure upload folder.   And, next time you need to get the kids off of their electronics, here’s something you can all review together.

Keep Giving

As our hearts go out to the people impacted with loss of communities, lives and belongings, there are many ways that we can help.  If you are part of a faith community, odds are there is process in place to provide Target Gift cards, money or other goods to support those in need.  If you don’t have that, you can join Golden Bear Solar in donating to The Cal Fire Foundation,  or check your Facebook feed – you will likely see many friends or organizations doing that.  (In fact, when last at my ATM, Wells Fargo was offering to get money to Red Cross if I wanted to do that.)

Keep Active

Since I can feel the poor air quality even in my daily dog walking, it has taken some adjusting to my schedule to stave off cabin fever, and the sleep issues I get when I cannot exercise.  I am fortunate that I have many good indoor exercise options, ranging from health clubs to cycling and yoga studios. But even on the days when I can’t stand to go outside, I’m lucky that YouTube has such good yoga and stretching options.  (Check out Adrienne and Sybel!)  I hear fitness blender has some good cardio sessions, though I’ve yet to partake.  (This from my non-cycling, gentle yoga only friend!) Enlist your friends to keep you motivated.

Keep Brush Cleared

I don’t live on a hillside, or out in the country, but my handyman showed me how dense, dying brush, even in my suburban street, is building up heat.  Again, while taking care to avoid overdoing in the terrible air, do make sure that your brush isn’t building up in a way that could take on heat, either from its own decomposition, or from being close to an outdoor cooking area, a pool heater (my situation) or the like.  If your gardener can’t be persuaded to do it, another chore for the kids or the sweetie?

Keep An Eye on your Rates (and get educated about your solar / battery options)

While I feel for PG&E in all of this, I don’t want to pay for the punitive damages that will come from under maintained lines.  I understand they have the right, and the need to raise rates to pay for extra prevention and a whole lot of clean up and payback, but I also want the right to invest in my own capability to produce and store electricity.  In addition to getting informed about my solar options, I am now convinced that a battery is a part of my plan – so that should there be a power outage, I’d have some ability to keep some of the power on.

So – as we pray for rain, and the safety of firefighters and affected residents — please do take action to care for yourselves and your families.