Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
Wildfires are an all-too-common occurrence in many areas of the U.S. Even if the fires do not directly involve your home or surroundings, the smoke generated by wildfires is a potential health hazard for everyone in the area. Smoke from wildfires contains gases along with fine particles generated from burning of trees and plants. Wildfire smoke can cause a number of physical symptoms, and those most affected include the elderly, children, and people suffering from heart and lung conditions.
Symptoms produced by wildfire smoke predominantly involve irritation of the respiratory tract and may include:
People with heart disease may experience worsening of existing symptoms including chest pain, tiredness, and shortness of breath. Those with respiratory conditions can experience difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing when exposed to wildfire smoke.
To help protect yourself from wildfire smoke, listen to local air quality reports. Some areas provide news reports containing the Air Quality Index (AQI) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some communities also have visibility guides posted so that you can estimate the AQI based upon how far you can see at a given time.
If a public health message warns you to stay indoors, keep the indoor air clean and take the following precautions:
Reference: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fact sheet "Wildfires"
Last Editorial Review: 10/22/2007
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