It seems that every year wildfires seem to get worse. Fires cause millions and sometimes billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and communities. Extinguishing a fire is an arduous task even with enormous human efforts. Even if a community manages to be spared from direct contact with the fire, the community will likely lose power due to the damage in the surrounding areas. People are left without power, and thousands of linemen from across the country get the call to leave their families to help those in need and get the power back on, so the communities can begin to rebuild.
Just because a fire has moved out of an area doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers for the linemen and emergency relief crews. Structures can’t be trusted after being exposed to intense heat. The rebuild can be a dangerous task.
We’ve put together a list of what linemen should consider for staying safe:
- There should be strategies and procedures to keep linemen and crews safe in dangerous situations. Make sure you follow these guidelines.
- Get used to the heat. Do your best to acclimate. Drive to the job with no AC. Wildfire season happens during the hottest months. Crews will face extreme temperatures on top of heat from the fire. Even though linemen aren’t in the thick of the fires themselves, everything around will be extra hot.
- Drink lots of water and electrolytes. Working in extreme temperatures is going to deplete your body. Make sure you don’t get overheated and dehydrated.
- Be mindful of carbon monoxide. Working on a wildfire exposes crews to several chemical compounds. Make sure you pay attention to these symptoms: dull headache, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting.
We’ve put together a packing list to help you be prepared for working on your next fire. First, make sure you roll your clothes and secure them with a rubber band.
- Hard hat
- Halo SL - be seen in high-risk and low light environments
- Flame resistant jacket, pants, and shirts
- Fleece shirt
- Gloves, beanie
- Shorts, underwater, socks
- Casual shoes and flip flops
- Lightweight rainproof jacket
- Puffy jacket for cold nights
- Food and snacks. Make sure you take plenty of non-perishable food to eat
- Toiletries, sunscreen, aloe, lotion, wet wipes, earplugs
- Bug spray
- Solar charger
- Cash/change (for laundromats)
- Sleeping bag, sleeping bag, tent
- Small headlamp
- Mesh laundry bag
- Dry bag
- Water purifier
- First aid kit
We are so grateful for the linemen, wildland firefighters, and emergency crews that leave their families and risk their lives to help these communities in need. Thank you to all the crews helping people, animals, and communities in these natural disasters. We’re grateful for these unsung heroes!