How to Stay Safe and Healthy During Wildfire Smoke

CATEGORY: Health & Wellness

How to Stay Safe and Healthy During Wildfire Smoke

Posted on September 16th, 2020 - Reading Time: 2 Minute/s

As wildfires rage across the entire West Coast, a giant wave of smoke has blown across Western Washington. The air quality across Washington has the potential to reach extremely unhealthy levels.

Here is a reminder on how to stay healthy when the air is smoky.

People with heart or respiratory conditions, children, and the elderly are most at risk for poor air quality created by wildfire smoke.

Poor air can irritate and damage lungs, especially for people who have congestive heart failure, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other heart or breathing conditions. Exposure can also cause a fast heart rate, chest pain, trouble breathing, and asthma attacks.

Smoky air can affect you even if you’re not in a high-risk group. It can cause sore throat, headaches, runny nose, and fatigue.

Here are some steps you can take to stay healthy when the air quality is low. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns!

  • Check your local air quality reports. Air quality can change day to day. Check air quality forecasts and monitors at the Washington Smoke Information Blog, or for a county-by-county breakdown, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology.
  • Shut windows and doors to keep out the poor-quality air. Try to have the shades down during the day to keep your home or apartment cooler. Turn air conditioners on recirculate if you have one. Don’t draw the bad air inside your home.
  • Keep in-home air clean. Vacuum the house. Don’t burn candles and don’t use the fireplace.
  • Use a freestanding indoor air filter that can remove harmful particles.
  • Avoid outdoor exercise. If the air quality is very poor, you might also want to limit exercise or strenuous activity inside.
  • Wearing a dust mask might not offer the protection you need, since most of them only keep out larger airborne particles like sawdust. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips for different types of effective masks for wildfire smoke.

Remember, this is not new smoke. This is smoke mostly coming from Oregon and California. Don’t call 911 when you see smoke. Call 911 when you see a fire.

See more of what you can do to protect yourself https://www.doh.wa.gov/SmokeFromFires.

Wildfire Disaster Cash Assistance
The Department of Social and Health Services has updated its Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP) to serve people who are affected by the wildfires burning throughout Washington state. DCAP for wildfires will assist households with financial losses that will not be covered within 30 days.

If your household was impacted by wildfires in Douglas, Okanogan, Whitman, Lincoln, Spokane, Chelan, Pierce, or Thurston counties, you may be eligible for DCAP. Learn more here.

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