Wholesome Residing: Forest Fireplace Smoke Security

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Healthy Living: Forest Fire Smoke Safety

With more than a dozen forest fires in Washington, preparation should be a top priority – even for communities that are typically not at risk of fire.

It is extremely dry, hot and no rain in sight. Washingtoners are preparing for a devastating forest fire season. Depending on where the wind blows, this smoke can lead to poor, unhealthy air quality in your community.

“Small airborne particles, such as those emitted by forest fires, pose the greatest risk as they bypass the body’s natural defenses and can get deep into the lungs and bloodstream,” said Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director at Regence.

Dr. Khan says exposure to these particles can have short- and long-term health effects. You will notice irritation to your eyes, ears, nose, and throat first. She says smoking can also make you more prone to lung infections, including COVID-19.

With the Delta variant rampant across the country, how do you know if this dry cough is from poor air quality or COVID-19?

Both share some of the same symptoms, such as shortness of breath and cough. But if you have a fever, chills, or body aches – it’s probably a virus.
Vaccination helps.

But with children under 12 who are not vaccinated, they are certainly more susceptible to wildfire smoke.

“Our children breathe air faster and take in more air than adults and are more sensitive to air pollution,” said Dr. Khan.

Stay indoors if the air quality is considered unhealthy. If you need to go outside, be sure to wear an N95 mask to keep the tiny particles from getting through the fabric.

If you need to escape your home because of the risk of fire, make sure you have an escape plan with your family before receiving an evacuation notice.
It is vital to take care of your mental and emotional health during natural disasters. So, if you panic, doctors say deep breathing, stretching, and walking can help relieve stress.

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