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Public Health PSA: Wildfire Smoke Inhalation Prevention Information

PSA from the North Central Public Health District
Published on 7/18/2014
Author: Teri Thalhofer RN, BSN, Director North Central Pub
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Several fires are burning in and around Oregon and County health officials are providing the following information to help local residents proactively avoid illness from wildfire smoke inhalation. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children, are advised to stay indoors. Poor air quality conditions are a health threat and should be avoided by all residents in smoky communities. Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly depending on weather factors, including wind direction.

Take the following precautions to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms from smoke:
  1. Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area.
  2. Avoid outdoor exertion during such conditions. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity including sports practice, work and recreation.
  3. Drink lots of water - staying hydrated can keep your airways moist which will help reduce symptoms of respiratory irritation such as scratchy throat, running nose and coughing.
  4. Try to avoid driving in smoky areas. If you do need to drive in these areas, keep your windows rolled up and vents closed. If you need air conditioning, make sure you set your system on “re-circulate” to avoid bringing smoke into your car.
  5. Avoid smoke by staying indoors, closing all windows and doors and use a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter.
  6. People with concerns about health issues, including those suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, should follow their breathing management plans; keep medications on hand, and contact healthcare providers if necessary

Helpful links:
Oregon Smoke blog for the latest on fires and air quality across the state
DEQ’s Air Quality Index for current air quality conditions
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet about the health threats from wildfire smoke
OHA wildfires webpage
(For more information, please contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600 or visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org)


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