Even if wildfires are not directly impacting your area, wildfire smoke can still infiltrate and affect yourself and others. Any healthy individual can become sick when breathing in this smoke, but those with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, or heart disease are particularly vulnerable. Pregnant individuals and children as well as first responders are also at risk. 

Wildfire smoke contains gases and fine particles from the structures and plants and trees that were burned. Breathing in this smoke can cause:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Asthma attacks and trouble breathing
  • Stinging eyes
  • Runny nose and irritated sinuses
  • Scratchy throat
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Tiredness

Here are ways to protect yourself from feeling the effects from wildfire smoke:

Keep smoke outside and limit indoor smoke exposure: Have a dedicated room to close off from outside air and keep it clean by filtering the air. Also avoid using candles, gas, propane, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and aerosol sprays. Do not fry or broil meat, smoke, or vacuum. Make sure your central air-conditioning system has high efficiency filters as well as they will capture the fine particles from wildfire smoke. If you’re air-conditioning unit has a fresh air intake, set it to recirculate mode. 

Be aware of conditions if you must go outside: Monitor current air quality conditions before venturing outside and also limit your time outdoors. Focus on essential outdoor work and activities and take frequent breaks indoors. Remember to wear a respirator when going outside as well, but some health conditions require you to reach out to your doctor to see if a respirator is safe for you. As always remember to get medical attention if you need it. 

Source: CDC

Image by Jackie Burton from Pixabay

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