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Wildfire Smoke Dangers

The fire forecast for most of the west and southwest shows a general continuation of hot and dry weather well into fall.

“We are very concerned about wildfire smoke exposure which can cause both respiratory and heart problems,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, an associate medical director at California Poison Control System for the Fresno-Madera area. “Infants and young children and adults over 65, as well as pregnant women and those with pre-existing heart and lung problems, are most susceptible to the effects of wildfire smoke.”

Symptoms of wildfire smoke exposure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Stinging eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue

Dr. Vohra recommends the following for those in the vicinity of wildfires:

  • Check air quality reports frequently. Wind changes can make air go from good to bad quickly.
  • Limit activities that can increase outdoor pollution such as driving, barbeques, gas lawnmowers, etc.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, especially outdoors.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Check with your doctor if you have heart or lung disease to see if he or she wants you to increase medications.
  • Indoors avoid using the fireplace or smoking.
  • Paper dust masks are not sufficient to prevent smoke inhalation. Check with an emergency supply store to get the best respirator type mask available for each family member.
  • Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.