The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way everyone lives their lives. Its effects are felt far and wide, but the one thing many not realize it affects is open burning or backyard burning. This act can actually cause more problems during the pandemic, so here’s what you need to know.
What is ‘Open Burning?’
Before getting into the effects of it, you need to know what open burning is. Also known as backyard burning, it’s the act of purposefully burning materials in order to dispose of them.
Usually, open burning will happen on residential properties, when homeowners are looking to dispose of non-toxic materials. This may include things like wood, paper goods, and so on. It may also be used to dispose of yard clippings and garden waste. You may also see open burning be practiced on a larger scale. For example, to clear away felled timber from forested areas.
Many people may be using open burning to dispose of goods during the pandemic. For example, they may need to do so as trash collections aren’t happening in their area, or they’re using the time to do work on their home. This will generate more waste, which they need to remove as soon as possible.
How Open Burning Causes Problems During the Pandemic
At first, you wouldn’t think that open burning will have anything to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The smoke from a fire won’t spread the virus, for example. However, the issue is that the smoke causes more problems in those suffering or recovering from COVID-19.
As COVID-19 affects the lungs, patients will encounter more problems with their breathing. Smoke from fires will affect them more so than those who haven’t caught the virus. The CDC says that patients are going to be at risk from respiratory health problems after being exposed to smoke.
As well as this, you need to consider the other risks of open burning. As with any fire, there’s always the risk of burns and fire-related injuries. If something were to go wrong, you may find that help will be slower to get to you. In areas where COVID-19 transmission is high, emergency services may be operating at reduced rates. With help getting to you later, that may make injuries worse.
Also, remember that ER rooms across the country are being strained as they handle new COVID-19 cases every day. That’s going to affect the help you can get if you are injured by fire.
Yet another issue to consider is the ongoing California wildfires. Right now, the state is still at risk of wildfire, and that has a knock-on effect on the community. When you have an open fire in your backyard, there’s always the chance that it could contribute to wildfires.
If a wildfire is approaching your area, you may need to evacuate away from your home. This carries more COVID-19 risks for you and your family, too. Shelters are doing their best to protect against it, but the risk will still be higher. Additionally, smoke from wildfires again will aggravate COVID-19 patients’ symptoms.
As you can see, there are all kinds of problems that can come about from open burning. Some of these are worst-case scenarios, but you should always be prepared in case the worst does happen.
How to Reduce the Effect of Open Burning on the Pandemic
Now you know all the risks, you need to know what can be done to reduce them. Of course, no risk factor can be brought down to 0%, but the more care everyone takes, the safer and healthier everyone will be.
Find other disposal methods: The first step is fairly obvious, but if you can, avoid open burning on your property. If you have waste to get rid of, try and place as much of it as you can with your regular household trash. This ensures it’s taken away and disposed of as safely as possible.
Of course, not everything can go in the household trash, so you’ll need to consider what you’ll do with the rest of it. If you have items that can be recycled, find your local recycling center and take your items there. Cardboard and paper, for example, are easily recycled. If centers are closed right now and you can do so, keep your recyclable items together and store them, ready to be taken once they’re open again.
Some of your waste may actually be suitable for composting. If you don’t already have a composting set up, consider implementing one now. This keeps waste out of landfills and may even benefit your garden, too.
Check the rules before you burn: If you are considering having a fire, check the laws in your area. Some areas in the US will have temporarily banned open burning, on recommendation from the CDC. Others will have strict rules on what can be burned, and when. If you do need to burn something, ensure you’re checking these rules first.
Be fire safe during open burning: If you do need to burn some waste, ensure you’re taking all the right safety precautions before you do so. Keep the fire in an area with plenty of open space around it, and ensure all flammable items are kept away. You’ll also need to keep a connected hose nearby, so you can quickly douse the fire if needed. Never leave the fire unattended, and when you’re done, ensure the fire has been properly put out.
If you work to reduce your need to burn waste right now, this can have a very positive effect on the community around you.
Open Burning Conclusion
As you’ve seen, open burning actually has a detrimental effect on communities that are dealing with COVID-19. Use this advice to help you reduce your need for open burning, and find other ways to dispose of any waste you have.
With these tips, everybody can be kept safe during these times.