Take precautions in smoke
Even leisurely riding a bicycle when the smoke is visible is dangerous, said Ng, and residents should minimize this sort of activity until air pollution levels have decreased.
Exercise makes people more vulnerable to health damages from pollutants, as we breathe more air in during exercise or strenuous work, according to the American Lung Association.
During strenuous activity, people draw air in through the mouth, bypassing the first line of defense against pollution, the nose. Smokey conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, and individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung conditions such as bronchitis or asthma, said Lassen County Public Health Director Julia Kranz.
The health department recommends individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases make sure they are on medication, and have at least a five-day supply on hand.
It is advised that residents be prepared to stay indoors and limit their activity if necessary.
With poor air quality and remnants of smoke and ash during and after a fire, it is advisable to take steps in the home to keep your family healthy, said Kranz.
Warn children not to play in soot or ash gathered outside; these materials may be harmful to a child’s respiratory system, particularly if the child has asthma.
“Small pets should be brought inside,” said Ng, “and try to keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.”
Run an air conditioner to help filter the air, she said, and make sure to change the air conditioning filter after smoke has subsided. Do not use swamp coolers or inside fans, she advised, as these only suck in air from the outside.
Monitor your child’s breathing; if respiratory symptoms such as coughing or wheezing appear, bring your child indoors and contact his or her physician.
If anyone in your home develops health problems from breathing smoky air or from other aspects of the fires, said Kranz, seek the advise of a physician.
Daily updates on local air quality are available by calling the air quality control officer at 251-8110. Updates on wildfires may be found on the Lassen County Times Web site, lassennews.com and CAL FIRE’s Web site, fire.ca.gov.
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