Wildfire smoke contains fine particles that can cause burning eyes, running nose, scratchy throat, headaches, and bronchitis. They can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease.
People at greater risk of having their health affected by wildfire smoke include:
- People who have heart or lung diseases (like asthma)
- Older adults
- Pregnant women
If it looks and smells smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time for outdoor activities. If visibility in your neighborhood has decreased to less than five miles, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy, even for people not on the above list. Protect yourself from wildfire smoke by doing the following:
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner (with the fresh-air intake closed and filter clean), but evaporative air conditioners (swamp coolers) can pull smoky air into the house. Consider using a portable evaporative cooler inside the house or seeking shelter at an alternate location, especially if heat is also an issue.
- Don’t add to indoor pollution by burning candles, smoking, or vacuuming.
- Follow the advice of your doctor or other healthcare provider about medications and respiratory management if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing. Call for further advice if your symptoms worsen.
- Do not rely on dust masks for protection. These masks will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.
- Evacuate if instructed by local officials. Take only essential items with you and follow designated evacuation routes.
- Pay attention to local TV and radio reports, along with official social media sources, for up-to-date information for your area.