ICYMI, California is on fire… literally. The state is currently having a record-breaking wildfire season, beating its record for most acres burned in just September (the former record-holding year being 2018). Three of this year’s fires have made the Top 20 Most Destructive California Wildfires list, two have made the Top 20 Deadliest California Wildfires list, and five now hold positions on the Top 20 Largest California Wildfires list, one of those being number one. People have been forced to evacuate from their homes, and this is all going on in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, no less. According to the California Statewide Fire Summary posted on CAL FIRE’s official Twitter account, as of Sept. 23, there are currently over 18,200 firefighters battling the 26 active major wildfires that, in total, have burned over 3.1 million acres of land. And, as of Sept. 22, there have been 26 total lives lost in the 2020 wildfires.
California’s increase in large fires has been linked to climate change in published research articles, such as one from Earth’s Future. Wildfires have been known to start multiple ways, broken power lines, lightning strikes, improperly discarded cigarettes (Smokey Bear would be so disappointed!) campfires, and so on. Over 85% of wildfires are caused by humans, and one man-made wildfire starter that is rare but still way too common is—wait for it—a gender reveal party. Yep, that’s right. This year’s El Dorado Fire, which, as of Sept. 23, has been active for 17 days and has spanned 22,601 acres of land, was started by a gender reveal gone wrong. There have been four structures damaged, 20 structures destroyed, and 13 confirmed fire personnel and civilian injuries. And, on Sept. 17, a firefighter, unfortunately, died while battling the fire.
Now, the question may be asked, How can an innocent, fun gender reveal party cause a massive, deadly wildfire? Well, according to the CAL FIRE News Release, a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” was used in the festivities at El Dorado Ranch Park on Sept. 5 (CAL FIRE also wants to remind the public that “with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire.” Just in case that wasn’t clear). The gender reveal party is now part of an ongoing investigation.
This isn’t the first time an ambitious gender reveal party has caused destruction and peril, though. In April, a 10-acre brush fire was started in Florida after a gender reveal used Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, “and a weapon”. The wildfire known as the Sawmill Fire was sparked in Arizona in April 2017 when an off-duty Border Patrol agent shot a target filled with colored powder and Tannerite, intending to find out the baby’s gender with a resulting pink or blue burst. In Oct. 2019, a woman in Iowa was killed at a gender reveal party by flying debris from a device that was supposed to reveal the baby’s gender, but ended up being somewhat of a “homemade pipe bomb.”
So, you’ve found yourself at a stalemate. A gender reveal party is basically a rite of passage for millennials, but at the same time, is a possible resulting wildfire or death worth it? Honestly, I’m offended that you thought I wouldn’t solve this terrible dilemma for you! Here are three gender reveal ideas that support small businesses, are super cute, and—with proper use—will not cause a wildfire:
- 100% Biodegradable Confetti Cannons by ShowerAndCoGifts
Not only are they perfect for an Instagram-worthy reveal moment, but they’re also biodegradable. Yay for eco-friendly fun! The shop even sells a metallic biodegradable version, if shine is more your speed.
- Scratch-To-Reveal Cards by DesigningMoments
These cards are simple, sweet, and pandemic-friendly! Support the USPS and mail the reveal cards to your family so they can join in the delight with you. The thrill of it being a scratch off is just an added bonus. If it’s an in-person celebration, this game version by HoneyBeePartyPrints is sure to be a hit.
- ‘Waddle It Be?’ Rubber Duck Fizz by 9byNeetz
Drop this duck into clear water and it will slowly fizz, eventually turning the water blue or pink. If you have an irrational (or rational, I don’t judge) fear of rubber ducks, the shop also sells multiple duck-free fizzes that are just as adorable.
In the grand scheme of things, gender reveal parties are not a necessity. I mean, are they not reinforcing the gender norms that we’re working so tirelessly to dismantle? Jenna Karvunidis, the woman credited with inventing The Great Gender Reveal Party, even says that her own views on the party idea and gender have changed since she threw her party in 2008—she used pink icing in a cake, not a pyrotechnic device, BTW. “It’s become a bit of a nightmare,” Jenna said when talking to NPR in 2019 about the trend of dangerous gender reveals. “Celebrate the baby. There’s no way to have a cake to cut into it, to see if they’re going to like chess. Let’s just have a cake.”
Here is a list of ways you can help the victims of the California wildfires. To those in California, we at Zoe Elle send love and light. Please stay safe.
The featured image is an edited still frame from a video of the explosion that caused the Sawmill Fire, which was released by the U.S. Forest Service.