We’re living in a tough time, especially here in California where we are dealing with horrendous wildfires.
But although the wildfires originated in California, the smoke has reached far and wide in the United States and the Pacific Ocean, so everyone must take precautions to protect our respiratory health.
Why is wildfire smoke dangerous?
Well, wildfire smoke contains very tiny liquid and solid particles known as aerosols that can degrade the quality of air that we breathe. And because they are microscopic in size, they can penetrate deep into the lungs. This causes trouble and can even create breathing problems for anyone, particularly people who have asthma. Everyone is at risk for heart disease and cancer if exposed to this kind of air pollution continuously.
If you are up-to-date about the wildfire, you can see that unhealthy levels of air pollution have affected Northern California and some parts of Southern California. Black carbon, or soot, not only is a factor for global warming but also is a direct harm to humans and animals when they enter the lungs and bloodstream.
So how do we support respiratory health during this time?
First things first: Whenever possible, avoid breathing smoke. If not, limit your exposure by following the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Pay attention to public health messages. Always be updated with the news about the wildfire status and public health warnings. If you are instructed to evacuate your area, do so speedily.
- Stay indoors and keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep your doors and windows closed to prevent outdoor smoke from entering and keep your air filter clean. Once the outdoor air quality improves, open the windows to air out the house. In case you don’t have an air conditioner and the temperature goes up, consider going someplace temporarily that has cleaner air.
- Also, don’t add more pollution in your home. Avoid burning candles, incense, air fresheners, and smoking. It’s also good if you have some indoor plants that could filter air pollution and give off oxygen into your home.
- Avoid vacuuming during this time (unless you have a built in vac) because it stirs up the air pollutants already in your home.
- Properly wear an N95 mask or P-100 mask. Dust masks or cloth masks can only filter large particles so they can’t protect you from the aerosols in wildfire smoke. However, you should make sure that you wear the N95 or P-100 respirators correctly to be properly protected.
- If you have asthma, lung disease, or cardiovascular disease, make sure to follow your healthcare provider’s advice and continue taking your medicines as directed. If your symptoms worsen or if you think you are going to have a heart attack, dial 9-1-1.
Sending safe and healthy wishes to you during this vulnerable time!