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Protecting Your Lungs During Wildfire Season

Protecting Your Lungs During Wildfire Season

The ResBiotic Team The ResBiotic Team
4 minute read

The latest IPCC report has shed light on the vulnerability of our planet and the significance of tackling the climate crisis soon to safeguard the lives of our future generations. Apart from the negative impacts on the environment, these wildfires are extremely damaging to human health.

Wildfires are responsible for hazardous levels of air pollution in many regions, and this poor air quality can make it hard to breathe. What’s more, wildfire fumes have been shown to travel large distances and can affect communities living hundreds of miles away from the source. With an increasing number of wildfires taking place every year, how can you best protect yourself and your loved ones?

Protect the air inside your home

There are several ways you can ensure the circulation of clean air inside your home during wildfire season. It is not only important to keep all windows and doors closed for a few days following a wildfire, but it is recommended to keep the air-conditioning on (with a clean air filter) as these devices can protect against smoke. Alternatively, an air purifier or cleaner can also help filter out smoke particulates.

Avoid activities that can increase indoor pollution, such as vacuuming, smoking, burning candles and fireplaces, or even lighting gas stoves.

Wear a face mask

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased global mask usage like never before. While regular dust masks may not be effective against protecting against smog, those with an N-95 or N-100 filter can block out fine particles and harmful gases released from the smoke. Children and those with weakened respiratory systems must especially wear masks when stepping outdoors for days following a wildfire.

Opt for indoor exercise

Even though outdoor activities are rejuvenating for physical and mental wellness, it may be best to exercise indoors during wildfire season. There is a high likelihood that the air outside may be of poor quality following the wildfire, and inhaling these harmful particles could lead to eye and throat irritation. Long-term exposure can also lead to more severe conditions such as asthma.

If you have been exposed to the smog, be on the lookout for breathing issues or a persistent cough up to two days after exposure. Consult a physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Stock up on food and essentials

As part of your wildfire preparedness plan, it may be a good idea to stock up on non-perishable food items, water, and other emergency supplies if you cannot leave the house for a few days. Necessary medications and a respirator are also valuable items to keep at home in the case of outdoor exposure. Storing non-perishable food items has the added benefit of not requiring cooking, an activity that can increase indoor pollution levels and impact air purity.

Check local air quality reports frequently

Finally, one of the most critical steps is to check local air quality reports for the latest news about the wildfire, related health warnings, and public health messages about safety measures. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index and the AirNow fire and smoke map are valuable tools to get daily updates on surrounding air quality. Color-coded forecasts on news channels also prove to be great visual aids that can help you quickly determine the extent of air pollution in your area.

Be alert and proactive at all times

Wildfires are increasing exponentially by the year, and people in wildfire-prone areas need to exercise extreme caution and ensure they maintain respiratory health. While it is essential to minimize exposure to dangerous pollutants and maintain clean air inside homes, it is equally critical to support national, state, and local efforts to help clean up sources of pollution and contribute toward wildlife refuge funds.

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