Wind can carry smoke and ash form Southern California's wildfires for miles, creating a health hazard that can affect the entire region.
It's important to know the potential health effects.
Smoke from wildfires contains small particles that can cause burning eyes, runny nose, sore throat, headaches and illnesses (i.e, bronchitis). Older adults, children, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions may experience shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, fatigue and chest tightness.
Here are things to do during and after a fire to protect yourself.
During a Wildfire
- Stay indoors; close windows and doors.
- Reduce physical activity.
- Use your Air Conditioner to filter the air. Make sure it has a clean filter and turn on the “recirculate” setting.
- Use a portable air purifier.
- Do not run whole house fans or swamp coolers.
- Avoid using wood-burning stoves and furnaces.
Do not rely on dust masks, surgical masks or bandanas for protection. N-95 or P-100 respirators can offer some protection, if they are tightly fitted and worn properly.
After a Wildfire
- Avoid cleaning up ash or soot if you have health problems.
- Keep children and pets away from ash.
- Avoid skin contact with ash. If you do come in contact, wash any part of your body immediately to avoid irritation.
- Take off shoes before entering your home.
- Use a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner to clean the ash in your home.
- Do not use leaf blowers. Instead, you can use damp cloths and spray lightly with water.
It is important to pay attention to local air quality alerts and the U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI).