Wildfires can devastate communities. But what many don’t realize is that they can impact far more than those directly in the path of the flames. Depending on the size of the fires, smoke and ash may stretch hundreds of miles away, creating health issues for many people. Here’s how you can protect yourself from wildfire smoke.
How the smoke may affect your health
Children, older adults, and those with heart or lung conditions, such as asthma or COPD, are at greatest risk of health issues, including severe breathing problems. Even if you’re not in these higher-risk groups, you may experience allergy-like symptoms, including congestion, sore throat, breathing issues, eye irritation, and fatigue.
If you feel like you’re not getting enough air, you should seek emergency medical attention.
How to protect yourself
Try to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid physical activity when the air quality is bad, especially if you’re in a high-risk group. Keep your windows and doors closed. If you have an air conditioner that recirculates air, this can help with the air quality in your home. Be sure your fresh-air intake is closed so you’re not pulling in smoky air.
When you go outside, we recommend wearing a particulate respirator mask rated N95 or P100. These are generally available at hardware stores, but may be difficult to find in times of high demand. Surgical masks, while often easier to find, won’t filter out the smallest particulates that are often in wildfire smoke. Try calling a local hardware store or pharmacy if you feel you need one. Bandanas and other types of masks don’t offer protection from smoke.
Finally, keep your eyes on local air quality reports. You can find regularly updated versions online that can help you make the safest choices for yourself and your family.
How One Medical can help
If you need to refill a prescription for inhaled medications or need any refill called into a different location, just let us know. You can make requests through the app, website, or by phone.
If you have any symptoms you’re concerned about that aren’t life threatening, feel free to reach out to us. We’re always here for you.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.