Health officials advise caution about wildfire smoke

Health officials advise caution about wildfire smoke

23 February 2011

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USA — The Highlands County Health Department and the Florida Department of Health issued a health notice on Tuesday morning concerning the dangers of wildfire smoke.

Thomas J. Moran, planning consultant for the health department, cautioned in his notice that wildfire smoke is a respiratory irritant that can cause scratchy throat or irritated eyes and nose.

Smoke can also worsen conditions such as asthma and other chronic respiratory or lung conditions, according to Moran.

In the notice, Moran advised that there are several ways to protect yourself and your family from the effects of smoke inhalation, but the key was awareness.

Citizens of Highlands County are advised by Moran to pay attention to local air quality reports, news coverage or health warnings related to smoke.

To lessen the breathing problems associated with smoke, stay inside. If you have to go outside, use common sense when outside conditions are smoky like prolonged outdoor activities.

It is especially important to limit time spent outdoors for children and persons with existing medical conditions, Moran said.

While indoors, run your air conditioner, if you have one.

Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.

For best results, run the air conditioning with re-circulated air.

But Moran also advises caution for those without an air conditioner. Staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.

Additionally, Moran advised that to help keep particle levels lower inside, try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves and even candles.

Do not vacuum, which stirs up particles already inside your home. Also, do not smoke tobacco.

Follow your doctor’s advice about taking medicines and following your asthma management plan if you have asthma or other lung disease. Moran advises anyone effected should call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

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