Last year was the wettest on record for North Dakota. It wreaked havoc on the fields all over the state, and what didn’t drown, froze. Quite a few people offered up a prayer or two for 2020 to be a little better.

They may have been a little too forceful in those prayers, though, because North Dakota is on the verge of a drought. Allen Schlag, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck, told the Minot Daily News that the state is “living on last year’s stored water. So far in June, Bismarck hasn’t even had a third of an inch yet. March had only three days with a tenth or more. That’s paltry.” Minot has fared better – about 4.20 inches of precipitation over the last five months, which includes snowmelt – but it is far below the average amount of 7.72 inches. All of this could pose some serious problems for ranchers and farmers, though we dare say North Dakotans are pretty good at facing tough situations and coming out on top.

Droughts prolong the risk of wildfires

While most news articles are focused on the effects a drought will have on crop production and the economy, there are other risks that come with drought. Most notably, droughts can create “ideal conditions for wildfires. Lack of rain and low humidity dry out trees and vegetation, providing fuel. In these conditions, a spark from lightning, electrical failures, human error or planned fires can quickly get out of control.”

Fire season varies a bit depending on where you live, but here in the Great Plains, it usually comes in early spring. Red flag warnings were issued in April of this year and last year, and there are currently small wildfires burning in Island Lake and in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. So far, North Dakota has remained pretty safe – the wet 2019 probably contributed to that, given the green growth – but dry conditions now can lead to unintentional wildfires created by people. Any of these summertime activities can cause a spark that leads to a fire:

  • Mowing dry grass
  • Dragging a boat with chains across dry grass
  • Leaving campfires unattended
  • Burning debris, including dry leaves

Other activities can include leaving a grill unattended, setting off fireworks, and throwing a burning cigarette out of the window.

Reduce your risk of burn injuries in the summer

Ideally, you will not be caught in a wildfire – ever – or injured in a controlled burn. There are some things you can do, though, to reduce your risk of accidentally setting the state on fire and sustaining burn injuries as a result.

First, make sure to check the fire maps before you either burn anything yourself, or spend time enjoying the great outdoors.

Second, never leave campfires, grills, or burning leaves/debris unattended. Keep some sand nearby to smother the fire; it’s more effective than water.

Third, make sure you have a fully charged cellphone (and a hotspot, if the WiFi is spotty) so you can contact officials if you notice a fire.

Finally, always keep a first aid kit handy. Serious burn injuries will require medical treatment, but knowing what to do in the time it takes to reach a hospital, or to be airlifted, may save a life.

The North Dakota burn injury lawyers at Larson Law Firm, P.C. represent clients in Minot, Bismarck, and throughout the state. If you have sustained a serious burn injury, we want to help. Please call 701-484-4878, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.