How to protect yourself against the dangers of wildfires

If you’re local to the California Bay Area, you may notice the strong smell of smoke in the air today. As wildfires rage throughout Sonoma and Napa county, over 1500 homes and businesses have burned, and over 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate. Wildfires have been raging throughout the west and throughout the U.S., resulting in over 8 million acres of land burned throughout the United States just this year.

It’s important to be aware of the potential health hazards of wildfires, especially the dangers of smoke exposure, so that you can protect both your health and the health of your family.

Smoke consists of chemicals and fine particles from the wood and materials which have burned, which then can penetrate into the lungs and result in harm to the respiratory system and body. Smoke exposure can result in difficulty breathing, coughing, dizziness, runny nose, and burning of the eyes, in addition to other symptoms depending on the severity of the exposure.

Smoke in the air can present a notable health risk especially to children, the elderly, and to people with respiratory problems such as COPD, asthma, and emphysema. In order to protect yourself from the harms of smoke exposure, limit outside activity and exposure to the outside air as much as possible, and monitor reports on local air pollution.

In order to stay safe and protect yourself from the dangers of a wildfire, make sure you take into account the following things:

  • Listen to your local news reports. Evacuate if necessary, and make sure your family is safe and together. Set a specific meeting place in case your family is unable to go home.
  • Ensure you have a stash of non-perishable food items that don’t require cooking, which can increase your indoor pollution levels.
  • Follow these steps to keep your home protected from a wildfire.
  • Make sure to follow your doctor’s advice on how to limit your smoke exposure during a wildfire. In order to find out what you need to do to protect your health during a fire, you can consult with a doctor here to discuss what is best for you.

In order to best protect the health of you and your loved ones during a wildfire, talk to a doctor about how best to plan ahead, so that you can make sure you have the best treatment options available to you.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by the recent fires in Northern California, we are offering a FREE week of primary care virtual consultations (via video, text or voice) with our network of top doctors on HealthTap. Simply click here to get free access.

Author: Maggie Harriman

maggie.harriman (at) healthtap.com

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