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Wildfire smoke can affect health

Feather Publishing
8/14/2012

Plumas County Public Health Officer Dr. Val Armisen advises residents with sensitive health conditions to stay alert to changing smoke levels caused by the Chips Fire and be prepared to act accordingly.

Smoky conditions can be hazardous for certain high-risk groups such as young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis, and individuals with other respiratory ailments. Residents in these high-risk groups who are in areas of heavy smoke should be prepared to stay indoors and limit their activity.

Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue. This is important for not only people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases. Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.

The use of masks is not recommended for people with lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema, elderly people and others who may have trouble breathing. It takes more effort to breathe through a mask, increasing the risk of heat stress or enhancing lung disease. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated or become disoriented, go to a smoke-free area and get medical attention.

What to do if there is smoke present:

—Stay inside with windows and doors shut.

—Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.

—Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.

—Avoid physical exertion.

—Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.

—Keep at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.

For information on fire conditions and local air quality updates, visit plumascounty.us.

 

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