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Over the past number of years, climate change has increased both the severity and the frequency of natural disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, and extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest. These events can pose significant risks to homes, businesses, and the safety of you and your loved ones.

State and local governments must have all of the resources they need to respond as quickly and effectively as possible when these events occur. I’m devoted to getting things done in Congress that will lessen the impacts of these natural disasters and also provide more help for people on the ground who need it in real time, whether that be before, during, or after the event.

Here are a few great places to start to ensure you’re aware and ready in case of an emergency:

Wildfires and Wildfire Smoke

Although an urban district like Washington’s 7th is not as likely to experience wildfires, we still deal with their effects, as the Puget Sound region is often impacted by wildfire smoke. In 2022, there were 1,549 fires reported in Washington. 1,316 (85%) of those fires were human-caused fires, and 233 fires were lightning-caused. Here is some information and resources on what wildfire smoke could mean for you, how you should respond, and where you can seek help from:

Symptoms of exposure can include

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Psychological stress
  • Exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions (e.g., respiratory, cardiovascular, and circulatory illness)

Groups most sensitive include

  • People with pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., respiratory, cardiovascular, and circulatory illness)
  • Children and infants
  • People 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Outdoor workers and those engaging in strenuous outdoor activities
  • People living unsheltered or houseless

Public health recommendations

  • Limit outdoor activities during wildfire smoke events
  • Keep indoor air clean by reducing activities that contribute to poor indoor air quality
  • Use mechanical air filtration to improve indoor air quality during wildfire smoke events by using a portable HEPA air cleaner or do-it-yourself box fan air filter
  • If you cannot avoid being outside, using a proper fitting NIOSH N95 respirator can help limit the amount of wildfire smoke inhaled


Extreme Heat

Due to the climate crisis, extreme heat has become a common presence during summers in the Pacific Northwest. Here are some information and resources on what extreme heat could mean for you, how you should respond, and where you can seek help from:

Symptoms and direct impacts of exposure can include

  • Heat-Related Illness (HRI)
    • Dehydration
    • Heat Cramps
    • Heat Exhaustion
    • Heat Stroke

Groups most sensitive and at-risk include

  • Older adults (65 and older)
  • Young children
  • People with chronic health conditions or mental illness
  • Outdoor workers or those engaging in strenuous outdoor activities
  • People living unsheltered or homeless

Public health recommendations

  • Stay cool and reduce time in direct sun
  • Reduce physical activities
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use curtains or blinds to reduce sunlight entering your home
  • Keep windows and doors closed during the hottest parts of the day
  • If you cannot keep cool indoors, seek shade outdoors



Earthquakes pose a great risk to Seattle and the surrounding areas. The city relies heavily on bridges that could be vulnerable to damage during an event like this and has hundreds of unreinforced buildings that would be at risk. Seattle has taken steps to retrofit this infrastructure in recent years, but it is important to know what resources are available to you and what actions you should take during an earthquake to keep yourself safe.


What Congress Is Doing

The Infrastructure Law in FY22 with the addition of Inflation Reduction Act funding in FY23 provided significant funding for strategic fuels reduction treatments on high fire risk landscapes in the Pacific Northwest region and other areas across the West. This new funding has allowed us build on prior successes of other programs. This work is critical to reduce wildfire risk to communities and firefighters and to improve the effectiveness of wildfire response.

The Infrastructure Law also funded the establishment of an additional firefighter training program, based in Central Oregon, which will help us in our goal to hire and train more full-time and seasonal firefighter positions throughout the Forest Service. The Infrastructure Law has also funded new Community Wildfire Defense Grants, Wood Innovations Grants, Community Wood Grants, and other grants that fund volunteer fire department equipment and training. These grants are being used by awardees to implement community wildfire prevention plans, expand use of small woody material and biomass produced during fuels reduction projects, and to train volunteer firefighters so they can assist federal partners in wildland firefighting efforts.

The pay increase that came with the Infrastructure Law has also bolstered our recruitment and retention of firefighters in the Pacific Northwest.